Guilty by Association

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Published on February 8, 2017, at 8:56 a.m.
by Tristen Gell.

Ivanka Trump — an amazingly successful business woman and fashion icon. You may know her father, President Donald J. Trump. Some people aren’t too happy with several recent decisions President Trump has made. However, critics are not stopping at the president; they are going after his daughter as well.

Ivanka Trump’s fashion line has hit a slump. Revenue is down and protests are up. In fact, companies that no longer want to be associated with her fashion line plan to drop her line and pull her items from the floor. Earlier this week, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus were among several companies that dropped Ivanka Trump.

The two companies claim there was no political reasoning behind the decision to drop her fashion line from their stores; it was just an issue of performance. However, with almost everything having to do with politics these days, that is a little hard to believe.

Photo by Pinton G.

Ivanka Trump’s team wasted no time in responding to the emerging crisis. Team members were, first, respectful and protected the brand as a whole. Public relations professionals, specifically those in the crisis communications department, should pay close attention to how the team handled itself. Below are several key factors that led to a successful response:

Quick response time
Ivanka Trump’s team responded as quickly as possible. As soon as word broke about the line being dropped from stores, the team immediately banded together to create a unified response. The team responded exactly one day after the initial news broke.

When dealing with a crisis, it is so important that your team is quick in responding. The longer your organization goes without letting the public know what is going on internally, the harder it is going to be to hold on to their support and interest.

Photo by David Shankbone

Brand reputation management
In the response, the team made sure that the brand’s longstanding, positive reputation was upheld. Ivanka Trump’s fashion line is based on the principles of integrity, diversity and the importance of empowering women. The team’s response emphasized the effort the fashion line has put in to uphold those principles.

For an organization, your supporting publics are going to be concerned whenever a crisis hits, so it is important to remind them why they supported you in the first place. Also, it is important to highlight what makes your brand special in hopes that your response can win over the antagonists.

Respect
Ivanka Trump’s team maintained a great level of respect in its response. It is so easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and lash out at and blame those working against you. However, the team did not even mention the companies that were dropping the fashion line or people who were protesting the line. The team simply spoke on the brand itself. Perhaps Ivanka’s father could learn a little bit about this point — just a thought!

Answering the “what now?” question
Many times when a crisis hits an organization, the public will wonder what happens next. For Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, what will happen next is the same thing that has been happening: success. The brand team states that the company will continue to grow and expand in the coming years while keeping in mind its core principles.

Ivanka Trump’s fashion empire is getting used to the idea of being guilty by association. When an organization has to deal with a crisis, it is never fun, but it adds a special kind of difficulty when the person creating the crisis is the president of the United States.

Communicating to the public in times of a crisis can be extremely tricky, but I believe Ivanka Trump’s team handled the situation well. I also think this crisis is far from over. Unfortunately, the American people can’t yet separate Ivanka from her father. I can only hope this crisis can be resolved before all the stylish pumps are pulled from the shelves.

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