Last week, a NASA scientist went on the record to declare that the healing stickers marketed and sold by Goop have no scientific basis for their claims and the healing stickers do not have any ingredients that relate to materials used by NASA scientists for space suits.
Needless to say, mainstream media had a field day and we were reminded once more how even the largest of companies lack the bare minimum media training or knowledge of brand journalism that would inform them on the best possible response when caught with pants down & on fire.
Coming from an expert in building digital community outreach, here are the three steps I would have advised Goop to take and this advice applies to any company that has been rightfully caught in any wrongdoing.
The worst response to any allegation is the deep dive in a witch hunt. That is the worst possible response to any accusation as it only solidifies the validity of the accusations on a visceral level. The media has been tasked to report so do not shoot the messenger. The lapse is your own fault. Be more upset of your own shortcomings from an operational standpoint and be less upset that the media found out about it. As often as possible, thank the media for bringing this to your attention.
Contact every journalist that ran the story and engage them one on one. Inform them all that you are dealing with the issue and will share a statement within a day. If you can avoid it, never run the statement by the legal department unless you want another PR fiasco on your hands. Repeating the line above, do not threaten the media. The community of journalists worked across 300 teams and 100 countries to take down the most powerful people via the Panama Leaks. This is one group you do not want to attack. Engage them, share a deadline for a Goop press release, hold yourself to it, and thank them for bringing the matter to your attention.
The witch hunt must begin in your own organisation. Was it a policy error, an incentive error, or a human error. Find the fault and weed it out. Take steps to implement corrective actions that eliminate similar future instances. Speak candidly with the staff on the lowest tier and ensure that none of them is at job risk for speaking openly. Enter solution mode. Mistakes like Goop are unavoidable and consumers don’t mistrust for long. Take ownership of the problem and never pass the buck, even if legal claims you can get away with it.
No person or organisation is an island. Every product or service is now subject to customer reviews. The business owner is responsible for selecting partners that are aligned, not just in terms of product segmentation and priorities, but even more fundamentally, with the brand’s values and what it represents.