Monday, December 22, 2008

Best Marketing Practice : Be Proactive to Rumours

Yesterday my wife told me about an internal mail she received at her office. It said that Kurkure contains plastic which makes it more crispier than other snack foods . Further Appyfizz contains cancerous substances and if you take Mentos and Pepsi together, you will die.....
So no Kurkure and Appyfizz for our child from now on.

I tried to show my " Professorial " knowledge by telling her that these are baseless rumors and all these products are safe. But she rubbished it aside saying that the mail come from a very trusted friend of her.......

I was little upset by her comments, not that she doesn't trust me but by the fact that such emails and rumors can create lot of issues for the brand. A call to one of my friend in advertising confirmed that these rumors were running around for more than three years.

Although internet offers lot of opportunities for brand promotion, the biggest threat comes in the way of such rumors.
There are two typical responses to such a kind of malicious rumor. Do nothing hoping for this rumor to die a natural death or be proactive and do something about such rumors.

Marketers should take proactive steps in countering such malicious rumors that can later snowball into a viral negative campaign.

When I did a small google search on Kurkure, I was surprised by the results. The first result that came was a Kurkure blog which negated the rumors. More than that there was a paid link to the FAQ site of Kurkure which clarified further than the rumor was baseless.

That is a proactive approach to handling such rumors by Kurkure.

Marketers cannot stop anyone from making such malicious rumors. But they can effectively negate such rumors by acting on it.

Have a website : Its important for brands to have a place for them in the virtual world. Since internet is a media one cannot ignore, it becomes important for the brand to have a site.
Scan the net for such rumors : Marketers should need to scan the negative news that spread across the internet. This should be done on a regular basis.

Negate the rumor using Search engine optimization : The brand should negate the rumor immediately with out waiting for it to spread. Most of the Search Engine Optimizers will help the company to keep their information on top of the search engine listing. My logic is that when a netizen gets a rumor email, he will search for further clarification. If the company is not providing such a clarification then he will take decision based on the judgement. I am sure that those people who forward such malicious email believe that it is true . Otherwise he will not forward it and risk his credibility.

Use Public Relations : The best tool to handle such events is to use the PR department. Use all mass media to convince the customers that the product is safe. Have a permanent link in your website to offer clarification about such reported rumors. If the rumor has snowballed into a big crisis, have your senior executives issue statement clarifying the issue. It it is health related, have doctors endorse your product's safety standards.

Open a channel for customers to contact you : The channel can be either an email or a phone number where the customers can clarify any doubts about the brand.

I know it will be difficult for a brand to react to each and every rumor that does the round. But the effort is well worth it.