Managing Crisis Communication with Market Invention

Crisis management & communication isn’t a fun topic. Business is rolling along and – whack – a reputation-shattering punch in the gut. They’re unexpected, unasked for, and unwelcomed.

But at Merit, we believe that with the proper mindset, a corporate crisis can become a learning experience and a net-positive in the long run.


Every failure represents an opportunity for improvement. Great crisis management & communication can be step one in reinventing a business or reimagining a market. They can point to an area of your game that needs improvement, force you into new positioning, or even send you back to the drawing board.

It’s exactly these sorts of situations where Market Invention can save a business.

KFC recently used this principle to turn a chicken shortage in their UK restaurants into a meme that spread like wildfire across social media. “FCK,” the empty chicken bucket in the picture read, “we’re sorry.” And with this genius move, KFC became the funniest, coolest fried chicken out there. They unwittingly opened the door to brand image reinvention. Regardless of whether or not they actually walk through that door and become full-on market inventors, the campaign was a wonderful example of crisis management & communication with a flair of Market Invention.


A more traditional crisis communications mindset would have said: stop the bleeding, limit losses. The PR team would have issued a boring press release, full of prepackaged generalities and limp apologies. If everything went well, the crisis would have subsided, and the still-breathing business would have started the long road to recovery.

But with some ingenious, bold maneuvering, businesses can do more than nurse their wounds and try to save face. They can use the moment of crisis as a time to reevaluate their deepest vision for their business and make meaningful changes. They can prove that they have not only survived a crisis, but become better for it.

You can read more about Market Invention here, and more on how it specifically relates to crisis communications here.

About Merit

Merit is the global leader in market invention. More often than not, our work carves out an entirely new market and transforms industry through research and strategy, communications, creative, and technology. For a company to succeed in the new era of marketing, it needs Merit.

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