Crisis Management 101: Shark Week Case Study, Part 1

While Discovery channel is currently running their “it’s still a bad week to be a seal” campaign, we have a feeling it’s really sharks who are in for a tough few days. Why? Thanks to Google Trends, we know interest in the term “shark attack” is set to increase drastically as searches for “shark week” do:

Shark Week Crisis Management

According to The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File, 2016 saw 84 unprovoked shark attacks, which is on par with the average 82 incidents a year. While this number is quite low (for reference, you’re 33x more likely to be bit by a dog than a shark), perception can sometimes be reality.

If you’re a shark, this means you’re in for a challenging week as misinformation swirls and hysteria mounts. While we don’t currently represent any sharks at SHIFT, let’s pretend we do for the purposes of this series. Let’s pretend our shark client’s name is G.W. and he owns a vegan donut shop (why not?).

Anyone Could Need Crisis Management (…and at Anytime)

This morning, G.W. woke up and saw a Shark Week promo as he waited for a video to load on YouTube. Odd (and untrue – “I’m a vegan! I don’t eat seals, or Seal for that matter…” G.W. utters), but he doesn’t think much of it. He then he goes to Twitter and sees #SharkWeek is trending – but for all the wrong reasons (read: attacks, ruined beach days, lack of dancing skills, etc.). An Olympic athlete is even smack talking him – not cool.

G.W. is appalled and worried his business will suffer because of all the false information circulating about sharks.

G.W. is suffering a crisis. As our VP of Marketing Tech previously summarized:

In a crisis management situation, something has gone wrong and your brand is on fire. There’s the something you did or something you’re responsible for – the fuel. There’s the tide of public opinion – the heat, the energy. There’s your speed of reaction to it – the catalyst. As with real fires, if you deny the fire any one of these sources, you break the chain reaction that causes fire and it burns itself out.

As G.W.’s PR reps/trusted advisors/crisis comms ride-or-dies, deny the fire of its resources we shall.

In this five part blog crisis management series, we’ll walk through how we would work with our pretend client, G.W., to help ensure his vegan donut business and brand reputation doesn’t suffer during or after Shark Week. This series will touch briefly on the following offerings/capabilities from SHIFT’s PR, marketing tech and creative services teams:

  • Media monitoring
  • Planning
  • Media training
  • Research (using tools such as Sysomos, Crowdtangle, Google Trends)
  • Sentiment/tone analysis
  • Owned media/messaging
  • Media relations
  • Social media management
  • Press release alternatives
  • Paid media and syndication
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer management (using techniques such as network graphing)
  • Events
  • Speaking programs
  • Predictive analytics

Even if you aren’t a shark, a crisis can hit when you least expect it. Are you prepared? Stay tuned to find out, and if you aren’t, no worries: we’re here to help you keep swimming.

Emily Mong
Senior Marketing Analyst



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