What Google Teaches Us About How to Handle a PR Crisis

Google, with its dominance of search engine traffic and ad space on over 2 million websites including YouTube, has been the unquestioned leader in its space for nearly the entire history of digital advertising. While that is unlikely to change anytime soon, the internet giant experienced perhaps its most public chink in its armor last week after AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon all pulled hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising after their ads appeared alongside videos containing offensive and extremist content. More companies, such as Starbucks and Walmart, have followed suit after what many in the industry are calling an unsatisfactory response from Google. YouTube ads are part of Google's overall ad network, along with over two million other websites. According to USA Today, these businesses were concerned about their ads appearing alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate. To counteract this, Google claims they are conducting an extensive review of their advertising policies and are committed to giving brands more control over where their ads appear.This case is a perfect example of why businesses need to have crisis communication plans in place before an issue arises. Both Google and AT&T are facing dilemmas they may never have anticipated, and are now finding themselves in the media spotlight. A plan is necessary for all parties involved in a crisis in order to move forward smoothly and ensure the least amount of damage to stakeholders.Even though your company may not be as massive as Google, this provides an example, at a very basic level, that consumers expect companies to take responsibility and have a plan ready for any problem, at any given time. An honest, timely response will go a long way in building trust with your customers. Being prepared to handle a crisis is half the battle for most businesses. While we certainly hope you never face a major issue with your customers, we do want to help you be prepared.

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