Rumour control has rocked some companies to their very core. There are 3 types of rumours that could destroy your brand; they are, laughable ones, dangerous ones and, devastating ones. If rumours are running rampant in your organisation, it is because your leadership most probably allowed it because it is a lack of information that enables it. It’s time to focus squarely on rumour control and nip it in the bud.
These types are the ones even your enemies will dismiss. They are stories even the most cynical people will not buy. The typical strategy to deploy here is refusing to dignify the tale with a response until it blows over. This is a good tactic depending on who is backing the rumour.
If it’s a relentless source with an ulterior motive and resources to do the damage, waiting for the truth to win out is no good strategy. The unsubstantiated statement of voter fraud during the last US Presidential election was laughable but it almost led to an insurrection.
ACTIONS : Ignore, Legal action, Advertising Campaigns and publicity.
Dangerous rumours are very believable because there is a lack of clarity with lingering issues. Even an organisation’s staff can believe a dangerous rumour. When there’s a culture of hoarding information, it often feeds the rumour. For example, a company decides to relieve expats to balance its salary structure so it can remain profitable. If this is not communicated clearly, it may be interpreted as “we’re going out of business!” There is no excuse for hoarding information and do not assume people will not notice.
Action : PR, Get the word out ahead on time, tell the truth and be direct via press releases
P&G had one of those with its logo back in the day. Devastating rumours can affect sales or damage the company reputation. For P&G, it was rumoured that their logo represented Satanic worship. Lawsuits and publicity did not work. They had to phase out the logo.
ACTIONS: Company strategic action like a product recall, rebranding, press conference.