Cleaning Up A Mess: What PR and Marketing Professionals Can Learn from Netflix

The Netflix change in service fiasco continues to unfold this week.

On Monday, the company revealed to investors the loss of 800,000 subscribers over the course of an already dismal quarter that involved a widely unpopular price increase and a failed plan to split its DVD and streaming services into two. Not surprisingly, stocks plummeted.

So now is an opportune time for those of us in the industry to consider, what can Netflix do and what can we learn from the situation? Here I’ve laid out four best practices for PR and marketing professionals to consider when strategizing on how to win back customer loyalty.

  1. Damage control. With the damage done, Netflix must embark on a major marketing campaign to both ensure the retention of current customers and win back those that have been lost. Yes, customer acquisition will be important, but it is the current and lost subscribers that will prove most beneficial to the company’s bottom line in the months to come. When experiencing a similar situation, focus marketing efforts on stopping the bleeding, which means getting back into the heart of your customers. Re-address consumer needs, if it has seemed to suffer, and aim to deliver them more effectively than the competition. This can be done  with a new campaign or with offering ways to save on current products, but you need to do something that will entice the consumer to come back
  2. Re-build the brand image. When we think Netflix, we think red envelopes and premium content. Yet both of these associations have taken a beating in the past year with the Quickster snafu and termination of the Starz contract. What does the brand mean now, and what is the emotional connection to the consumer?  Come up with a new way to draw the user in. It could be packaging technology in a new, more convenient way or providing users with premium content. But whatever you do, make sure people will enjoy the upgrade and that you publicize it as much as possible. That way they see your brand as offering more for the money, rather than cutting services
  3. Look forward, not backward. We all make mistakes. Yes, that means even successful businesses and entrepreneurs like Netflix and Reed Hastings. While Hastings’ apologies have largely fallen on an unsympathetic audience, the company must stop side-stepping and commit itself 100% towards shaping the future of media consumption. That means also changing the conversation. When in a similar situation, stop focusing on what went wrong, and move towards changing the conversation so people will think of something new if they think of your damaged brand
  4. Encourage the bigger picture. We are moving towards a streaming culture. While Netflix’s price hikes are an iffy move, I do support the company’s dedication to invest more in streaming. I think that in the end, we will all be happier with more choices when it comes to the content we crave, available with the technology we want. That means streaming directly to our TVs, iPads and laptops, whenever and wherever we are. Find the positive in the current situation, and make sure people know that these will improve services. That way customers can understand your company’s somewhat questionable move

Have you ever had to deal with a PR/marketing crisis? What did you do to change the conversation?


2 Comments Cleaning Up A Mess: What PR and Marketing Professionals Can Learn from Netflix

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