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Blog Post | Apr 02, 2024

How Direct Marketing Can Keep a Corporate Gaffe from Becoming a Publicity Disaster

Whether it's a full-blown public relations disaster or a more run-of-the-mill corporate crisis such as a product or service outage or a data breach, a proactive response can help minimize the damage. Here's how direct marketing can help contain the fallout.

Topics: Marketing Campaign

dodging problems
We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, in the age of the internet, bad news travels fast. Take, for example, when an office supply superstore sent a direct mailer to an executive and the envelope was addressed to "John Smith, Daughter Killed in Car Crash"—then a sales rep publicly disputed the executive's story. Within a few days, a simple and unfortunate gaffe blew up into a full-fledged crisis that left an indelible smudge on the retailer’s reputation. Fortunately, events like this are extremely rare. However, reputational headaches can still be caused by run-of-the-mill events like unplanned service outages, bad reviews that go viral, product shortages, data breaches, and even actual natural disasters that affect your ability to operate.

The PR experts at Sprout Social define a crisis as any scenario that could lead to a breach of customer trust and, with it, a host of possible worst-case consequences that could lead to:
  • Short- and long-term brand reputation
  • Stock prices (for public companies)
  • Customer loyalty and attrition
  • Sales and revenue loss
  • Employee satisfaction and turnover

You may not be able to anticipate it, but a swift, rapid response to a crisis can help minimize additional fallout. Here's how direct marketing can help your company recover.

Get Out Ahead of It
Depending on the scale of the misfire, you may need to put out a public statement. In tandem, you can also address the event head-on with an email response. Unlike going to the media, you can instantly control the entire narrative of an email and put forward your version of the story. By "controlling the narrative," we don't mean lying or misleading, but accurately stating the events as your organization knows them to be true and offering helpful information or a solution with minimal spin. Especially in the case of an actual disaster, an online security failure, or any other matter requiring immediate action, email can help you quickly provide information to your customers and the public. 

While you might be tempted to make a statement on social media, remember that it's a two-way street, and there is a potential for users to blow up your feed with their version of the events—trying to dispute their claims will look bad, and ignoring them will look worse. You'll definitely need to monitor your social feeds, but acknowledging the blunder on social media should not be your first step.

How Direct Mail Figures into Crisis Communications
When combined with email and other channels, direct mail can support and amplify your story. Where email gives you immediacy, direct mail provides gravitas: a nicely designed, professionally finished direct mail piece says you take the response so seriously that you're willing to put it in writing. Printed media like direct mail are frequently ranked as the most trustworthy and credible. 

In the case of an event that's somewhat less serious and more of an inconvenience than an actual crisis (for example, a product or service outage) direct mail is the perfect way to distribute an offer, a coupon, or some other form of redress to motivate your audience to continue to buy from you.

Count on Us for Direct Mail That's Ready to Go When You Need It
The best way to manage potential fallout is to take a proactive approach and make every minute matter. If you need a direct mail campaign handled rapidly, professionally, and cost-effectively, contact us. Whether your audience is local or national, we can help you get the word out quickly, so you have even less to worry about. Contact us to learn more.