Corporate scandal, like the one Volkswagen has faced in the wake of fraudulent practices, is the worst nightmare that can strike a company as it affects its reputation, customer trust and devalues the brand. It is one of the worst nightmares a PR team or PR agency has to face.
Its now former CEO Michael Horn admitted to wrongdoing, apologized , and resigned. This is as per the standard playbook of crisis communications. So far so good, but it cannot be denied that Volkswagen has a long painstaking way ahead before it rebuilds customer trust and confidence.
When a corporate scandal of this nature breaks out, it generates anger among consumers as they feel they have been cheated by a brand that they trusted. The fact that no solid reason has been given as to how this came about leaves the customer in a rage.
The PR task ahead now is to launch an investigation into the matter, showing the company’s seriousness in turning over a new leaf and its commitment to not to repeat the mistake again. Until this is done, its stakeholders will not be pacified.
Recovering the company’s reputation is likely to be a long PR process. The company needs to communicate honestly the results of its investigation and the measures being taken not to repeat this again. It has to show its commitment to work with government authorities to rectify its mistakes and put solid measure in place to follow environmental regulations.
With all the pressure to restore consumer confidence, the company should not overlook its commitment to its own employees who definitely feel let down by the company’s actions. They should be able to feel pride in their company again. They are also the company ambassadors who will be able to reach out to different sources conveying the right message. It is important for the management to communicate the company’s resolve and commitment to follow environment regulations going forward and implement strict measures to avoid fraudulent practices.
As a Dubai based PR agency, we advise companies in the Middle East on best crisis communication practices