What’s your opinion on the controversy?

June 23, 2020

Social media has turned the business world upside down. Companies and executives are expected to opine on controversy instead of simply providing products or services.

We can help you make the hard decisions about what to say, how to say it…and if you should say it at all. Here are the three most important questions we ask to guide our clients to the right choices.

How does the controversy impact your target market?

Earlier this year, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley lambasted Boeing for seeking a coronavirus-related bailout. An influential political figure, Haley left the company’s board over the issue.

Boeing never blinked an eye. Haley’s comments were widely covered by conservative media, but Boeing still got the government help it wanted.

The fact is that Haley didn’t affect Boeing’s target markets…and so the company moved forward. Contrast that with Boeing’s ongoing engagement regarding its 737 MAX crashes. In addition to the hundreds who died, the crashes greatly impacted Boeing’s stock value, reputation, and airplane sales.

Small businesses should follow Boeing’s example when dealing with controversies. Read more about how to think about target markets and bad publicity in our case study on Boeing’s bailout.

What does your target market want to hear?

Not all controversies are as direct as Boeing’s. Some target markets will react negatively to support for the recent race-related protests and law enforcement.

Getting involved is the first big decision. The second, equally important step is how to engage. Should you have a short statement or a detailed one? Is a video best, and who should be in it? Should your statement be full-throated in support or opposition, or more nuanced?

Be very careful with how you engage. Putting out the wrong statement may cause more problems than not engaging in the first place.

What do YOU believe?

In the end, it’s all about what’s important to you and your company’s values. You and your target markets may have different beliefs. Are you passionate enough to publicly disagree with some or all of your target markets and current clients? How will you deal with backlash, and how will you reassure investors, partners, and staff that this approach is sound?

These tough questions require knowing your target markets and being prepared for a variety of likely scenarios. This is where we come in. Contact us today to develop the strategies, tactics, and approaches necessary to engage in an ever-changing, controversial world.

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