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Crisis control 101

Posted on 16/09/2011 by Emma Dadswell

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Earlier this week it was reported that online fashion retailer Asos has withdrawn a batch of metal-studded belts from sale after they were found to be radioactive. Of course, such a story had the potential to rock even the most steadfast brand, but the way that the international online powerhouse expertly managed the situation is testament to the talent within its PR department.

The success story that is Asos is undisputable, starting life in 2000 as As Seen on Screen, a fashion website selling replicas of outfits worn by celebrities, Asos now offers 50,000 products from dresses to boots to make-up, and adds 1,500 new lines every week.

After the recent announcement, Asos clearly followed the tried and tested “Tell it all and tell it fast” ethos. The company never denied nor tried to play down the potential severity of the hiccup, neither did it overreact. But by presenting the media with the facts – and reassuring their consumers about the action it is taking – Asos has expertly smoothed over the situation.

When the issue was flagged, the company issued a worldwide recall of the items, with 49 sold across 14 countries. In its official statement, a spokesman said: “A product supplied to Asos did not meet UK health and safety standards. Asos worked with all relevant authorities and undertook a precautionary product recall, in line with our high standards of quality and customer care. No other Asos product lines are affected. Asos continues to work with the relevant regulatory authorities and is in dialogue with the supplier and the factory workers involved to ensure a satisfactory outcome.” In one simple quote the organisation addressed any questions or criticisms its stakeholders may have had, while reminding them of its reputation within the market.

It goes without saying that sometimes things go wrong, and when they do, the professionalism of PR teams is tested to the limit. There is no doubt Asos had a strategy in place for such an eventuality.  But organisations which have built strong brand equity through an on-going integrated PR programme are hard to knock of their pedestal. And the fashion in which Asos managed this potentially damaging revelation should be an example to all professionals in the industry.

What’s your view? Is Asos’s crisis management an example to the rest of the industry? Let us know by commenting below.