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3 risk-management lessons PR and marketing can learn from supply chain disruption

Soleil Kelley

March 15, 20226 min read

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The last two years have proven that large-scale global events can — and will — impact every aspect of your business. Scenario planning is a helpful crisis-management step, but the realities can be more volatile and damaging than any hypothetical. One real-world example is supply chain disruption.

Throughout the pandemic, empty shelves and trapped cargo ships brought the realities (and the pain) of supply chain disruption home in a concrete way for many consumers. Even though customers interact with the supply chain every time they make a purchase, it doesn’t become the focus of their experience until there’s a problem.

It’s the same with many marketing and PR teams. When things run smoothly, it’s easy to feel like you’ve got a handle on the supply chain or any other area of risk. But as months of disruption have stretched to years, it’s clear that PR, marketing, and communications need a unified view of the threat landscape, real-time data to understand the impact of crises, and a coordinated plan of prevention and response.

When it comes to any crisis, awareness is key. Let’s look at some of the reasons why, and some of the next steps your PR and marketing teams can take in tumultuous times, through the lens of supply chain disruption.

Anticipate change and adapt

Shocks to the supply chain can happen suddenly and have unexpected causes. Campaigns tied to specific products may have to be rethought if those products can’t get to your customers. Supply chain awareness allows you to reallocate resources to more viable marketing efforts, reframe metrics for campaign success, and identify opportunities for innovative promotions.

Keep an eye on the competition

Chances are your competitors are facing the same supply chain challenges you are. Supply chain visibility allows you to track competitors and understand what’s working best for them, spot pitfalls to avoid, and differentiate yourself. It’s important to maintain that visibility across industries, too, as supply chain disruption in one sector can have unexpected ripple effects. 

Protect your brand reputation

Obviously, customers facing long delays and possible price increases aren’t going to be happy. But brand reputation really takes a hit when you don’t respond to specific customer pain points with speed and empathy.

In times of crisis, it’s critical to have up-to-the-moment information to tell your brand’s story and address concerns. You’ll also need to understand how your customers respond to that story in real-time and across all channels to make sure your messages are connecting. This kind of engagement can humanize your brand and actually bolster your reputation.

Personalize your response

Supply chain disruption may disproportionately impact certain consumer segments or geographies, and your response must account for these differences. Real-time insights shared across marketing, PR, and communications teams will help you coordinate and produce targeted messaging to these customers for a more personal brand experience.

Next steps to move your brand from awareness to action

We’ve discussed the reasons your brand needs great supply chain awareness, but “build supply chain resilience” hasn’t always been number one on most marketing or PR to-do lists. But as COVID and, more recently, international conflict, have changed that, many brands face some key challenges in building that resilience quickly:

  • A fragmented view of real-time information from all news sources and an inability to contextualize it

  • Poor insight into the stories driving consumer engagement and conversation across traditional and modern channels

  • Incomplete understanding of where conversations are taking place and the sentiment behind them

On top of these challenges, many marketing, PR, and communications teams are working in a complex ecosystem of point solutions and silos that prevents fast, coordinated action. But brands that are prepared for supply chain disruption do three things differently:

1. Unify PR and marketing 

The efficacy of PR has always been difficult to measure, and a big reason is that it’s often viewed separately from other marketing efforts and strategies. But great PR will be essential for any brand navigating supply chain issues, and you’ll need to coordinate those efforts with the rest of your marketing teams.

With a unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform, every customer-facing team has access to shared, customizable dashboards, real-time data from across campaigns, and a single platform for collaboration. This allows you to integrate PR metrics like EMV (earned media value) with other marketing reports for a more contextualized view of what’s working.

2. Access, contextualize, and respond to real-time insights

The 24/7 global news cycle plays out in millions of daily messages across dozens of traditional and digital media channels. That data can be incredibly important for navigating supply chain disruption. When you have a comprehensive view of this data in one place, you can use it to create impactful, nuanced messages to your customers.

To tap into these insights and share them in real time with colleagues across the business, PR teams must track breaking news across more than 500M daily messages from dozens of outlets, print and online media, television, and podcasts in a single view. By leveraging powerful AI, you can go beyond simple keyword searches and tie together related content for a richer understanding of news stories pertaining to the supply chain.

Supply Chain Image 1

This view of the media landscape also allows you to see how important news stories are driving conversation across social channels; track brand-relevant mentions across industries; benchmark competitor performance; utilize sentiment analysis to understand the feeling behind engagement; and identify the impact of supply chain disruption for different demographics and locations.

Supply Chain Image 2

When combined with social listening in a Unified-CXM platform, media monitoring puts real-time data from traditional media sources side by side with real-time consumer data from more than 30 social channels. The result is actionable insight with the context you need to tell your brand story, when, where, and how your customers need it. It also empowers your customer care teams to respond quickly and thoroughly if disruptions do occur. 

3. Put safety first (and make safety fast)

Supply chain disruption underscores the need to take a proactive approach to brand reputation. With the right Unified-CXM platform, AI-driven notifications will automatically alert you when unexpected spikes in conversations related to your brand occur. This will allow you to instantly understand the context behind the spike, recognize and manage risks, and make necessary changes to your approach — before potentially threatening messages go viral.

Build your resilience strategy for disruptive events

With Sprinklr’s Modern Research, you can combine the power of Media Monitoring & Analytics with the insight-rich consumer data of social listening in the only Unified-CXM platform. This unified approach is critical for understanding and navigating supply chain disruption or any other world event that puts your brand and customers at risk. 

But you don’t have to take my word for it; you can dive into real-world supply chain data in Sprinklr’s latest Impact Report. This presentation synthesizes full-year 2021 data from across six industries and combines them in customized dashboards. It’s the tip of the iceberg for a powerful tool that allows your PR and marketing teams to drill into important news stories, gain new perspectives on engagement, seize unique brand opportunities, and mitigate risk. 

Impact Report: Supply chain disruption across industries

Access the Impact Report today, and experience the difference of a Unified-CXM platform firsthand.

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