How Brand Tracking Can Improve Crisis Management
Chart depicting brand performance metrics during a PR crisis Chart depicting brand performance metrics during a PR crisis

Morning Consult

March 3, 2023 at 5:00 am ET

In today’s world, the news cycle is full of examples of companies in crisis. From data breaches and executive missteps to more run-of-the-mill problems, public relations, communications and insights teams are frequently challenged with understanding the magnitude of events that impact their companies and quickly right-sizing the appropriate response.

With so much variability in how events and crises can arise and play out in the market, business leaders must leverage a brand tracking tool to better understand and respond to these events.

    1. The importance of effective crisis management
    2. Brand monitoring vs. brand tracking
    3. How brand tracking can transform your crisis management strategy
    4. Examples of brand tracking in crisis management
      1. Nike: A Brand Making Their Own News Cycle
      2. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: Weathering a PR Storm
    5. Schedule a conversation

The importance of effective crisis management

An effective crisis management strategy is something every organization should have in place. Without it, a business crisis or PR crisis could result in extensive damage to an organization’s brand reputation, growth and revenue.

Having a crisis management plan in place even before a crisis occurs is a proactive step every company should implement. That way, if a crisis situation does unfold, employees are already aware of the appropriate next steps. Keeping employees aligned in crisis planning helps organizations better control the narrative of the crisis before it reaches the public.

Leveraging a brand tracking tool is a pivotal next step to your organization’s crisis management strategy. It allows crisis management teams to analyze data and insights related to reputation metrics, public sentiment, brand favorability, media coverage and more in real time. This helps organizations detect, monitor and effectively respond to potential crises. Companies that respond efficiently to a crisis situation will limit reputational damage, minimize financial losses, maintain stakeholder confidence and resolve the situation sooner. Additionally, a well-planned response is likely to generate a higher level of trust among the general public.

Morning Consult Most Trusted Brands 2022: Report Download

Brand monitoring vs. brand tracking

When thinking about an effective crisis management strategy, two terms generally come to mind: brand monitoring and brand tracking. Both are key to developing a successful crisis management plan, but there are a few differences worth noting.

Brand monitoring involves collecting and measuring mentions of an organization across various channels: Think monitoring social media platforms, news outlets and other online channels to track what people are saying about your brand. Companies typically convert these findings into actionable insights.

Brand tracking involves regularly measuring and analyzing brand performance over time via metrics such as brand awareness, customer loyalty and brand sentiment. Brand tracking helps business leaders measure brand performance compared with competitors, identify trends in brand perception and make data-driven decisions about brand strategy.

Both brand tracking and brand monitoring are crucial to informing your crisis management plan and overall business continuity strategy, yet leveraging brand tracking specifically can truly transform your crisis management strategy.

Looking for a complete guide to brand tracking? We’ve got you covered here.

Morning Consult Brand Intelligence

How brand tracking can transform your crisis management strategy

Brand tracking helps business leaders better understand their corporate reputation and make informed decisions in times of crisis. With this technology, leaders can accurately monitor fluctuations in unique data sets that in turn help determine:

  • The likelihood of future crises
  • The impact of crises on brand reputation
  • The urgency of a response based on changes in consumer sentiment

Morning Consult’s solution can also help you tailor your crisis communications to niche audiences. Our proprietary survey research technology offers real-time insights into how your target audiences think, feel and speak about your brand, helping you craft messaging that builds trust, measures campaign impact on key audiences, proactively manages brand reputation and more.

Even when business is going smoothly, stakeholders face immense pressure to provide quality brand intelligence data. Visa, for example, was looking to better monitor industry trends and strengthen its reputation among critical audiences. Partnering with Morning Consult helped the financial services company’s communications leaders build brand reputation metrics organically, leaving them free to devote their attention to the current events that matter most to their core audiences. See more on their success story here.

Brand insights newsletter subscription

Examples of brand tracking in crisis management

We’ve observed the importance of brand tracking in crisis management for two prominent multinationals: Nike and Facebook.

Nike: A Brand Making Their Own News Cycle

Nike’s 2019 advertising campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick is a great example of how marketing campaigns can impact core brand metrics. To recap: Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign featuring the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback won Outstanding Commercial at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. However, the campaign also sparked nationwide controversy because Kaepernick had chosen not to stand for the national anthem during an NFL preseason game in 2016.

Utilizing Morning Consult data and visualizations, we were able to monitor metrics related to this campaign in real time through our advanced dashboards, including:

  • A Trended Response Options chart displaying a longitudinal view of Nike’s favorability. This helped show the impact that the Kaepernick ad campaign had on Nike’s reputation, especially compared to other, less impactful events.
  • A Trended Audience Comparison chart showing net favorability — the difference between favorable and unfavorable opinions — by generational cohorts.

In addition, we were able to create a custom demographic based on Nike usage that allowed us to see how past purchasers of the brand reacted to the campaign. Learn more about how we’re able to collect this level of granular data and turn it into actionable next steps.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: Weathering a PR Storm

Back in 2017, The Guardian and The New York Times reported that Cambridge Analytica had harvested more than 50 million Facebook profiles for targeted political advertising. The backlash was immediate across news and social channels, with Facebook issuing a public apology a few days later.

Morning Consult’s Brand Intelligence was able to show changes in favorability in the period immediately after the story broke, highlighting one of the pitfalls of relying solely on top-of-the-funnel metrics to determine the severity of a crisis. Our crisis management insights revealed that:

  • Within days, the story had spread like wildfire, making it crucial for Facebook to respond. Our Trended Response Comparison chart — showing daily data for negative buzz — revealed that within three days of the report, awareness had already ticked up to more than a third of the U.S. population.
  • By March 25, negative buzz had increased to the point that more than half of U.S. adults were aware of negative news about Facebook. It was at this point that the brand began running full-page ads in many newspapers around the world to apologize for the event.
  • By leveraging Morning Consult’s proprietary data, we observed that Facebook’s investors lost more trust in the company because of the Cambridge Analytica story compared with the general population.

Morning Consult Visa case study download

Schedule a conversation

With the largest daily sample sizes available in the industry and the ability to rapidly deploy new dashboards, our Brand Intelligence platform can help you manage both seismic events that require swift, comprehensive responses and smaller events that may require a more subtle course of action.

Don’t wait to get ahead on your crisis management strategy. Schedule a conversation with us today to learn how to get rapid insights in the Morning Consult Intelligence platform when timing is critical.

Morning Consult