Creating a Crisis-Ready Brand with Melissa Agnes

October 24, 2016

“It’s not about crisis preparedness. It’s about how culture approaches challenges.” Social media has created a powerful new dynamic for brands of all shapes and sizes. When things are going great, it can be an incredible business communications tool. When things go badly, they call crisis communications expert Melissa Agnes. We discussed crisis planning, culture, responsiveness, and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Melissa Agnes

President and co-founder of Agnes + Day Inc., Melissa Agnes helps global brands and governments prevent and manage a wide range of issues and crises. Her client list includes financial organizations, technology companies, healthcare organizations, government agencies, cities and municipalities, energy companies, global non-profits, and many others.

Melissa speaks worldwide to audiences including NATO, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Foreign Defense, Ministries of Health, as well as a wide range of private and public companies, universities and non-profit organizations. She has been honored to share the stage with members of the Ukraine government and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 2015, Melissa gave a TEDx talk in Los Angeles where she discussed the secret to successful crisis management in the 21st century.

Melissa’s recent press coverage includes Forbes, WSJ, VIBE Magazine, USA Today and more. She is the editor of the highly acclaimed Crisis Intelligence Blog, and the host of the internationally recognized Crisis Intelligence videos and podcast. Published regularly and followed by government agencies and Fortune companies alike, her blog, videos and podcast help organizations manage issues and crises in today’s connected and real-time world.

When she isn’t managing crises or speaking in front of an audience, Melissa enjoys adventuring around the world (usually on a sailboat), reading, writing and sipping champagne in good company.

Episode Highlights

How does one embark upon a career as an expert in crisis? “Growing up my dad always said to me ‘Paranoia will destroy ‘ya.'” Jokes aside, Melissa notes that she is someone who can be paranoid but she’s harnessed this into a powerful tool for helping organizations navigate today’s tricky digital marketing waters.

You don’t have a ‘social media crisis.’ Melissa used to agree with the buzzword ‘social media crisis’ but not anymore. “It sounds like you have an issue that’s a result of social media or that’s confined to social media.” In many cases, the true impact is much bigger than social media.

What does it mean to be a crisis ready? “It’s a lot of different things. It’s a mindset for the corporate culture. You have to create a plan but it’s not always just about working those steps. Things can get very emotional — and very impactful — very fast. We have to be ready for that and that’s not easy. It involves a lot of education.”

How to analyze the potential virality of a crisis. “We never know if something’s going to go viral but I always look for two things — emotional impact and relatability.”

What brand has made Melissa smile recently? “Wells Fargo — that’s a crisis of corporate culture.” We kept pivoting back to the importance of culture in managing a crisis. Melissa smiled — shaking her head in disbelief — at Wells Fargo’s crisis response. “They blamed their customers, their employees — everything except owning their own role in it.”

To learn more, follow Melissa on Twitter and check out her website.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community … Recently Arnie Kuenn gave us a shout out on our episode on SEO featuring John Jantsch. Thanks Arnie!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.