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Published July 21st 2020

Interview: Hill + Knowlton’s Enrique Aguilar on How Brandwatch Helps With Managing Crises

Enrique Aguilar, Head of Data & Analytics at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, Spain, lets Brandwatch in on some of the main ways he manages potential crises for his client base amid the Covid-19 pandemic

“It is key that we familiarize ourselves with consumer habits as well as health and regulatory trends in order to keep going and prevent risks,” says Enrique Aguilar, Head of Data & Analytics at Hill + Knowlton in Spain.

Fast, high quality analytics tools

The identification of potential threats in real time is crucial to mitigating any negative impact on brand reputation. Brands are now more vulnerable than ever, with evolutions of the digital universe constantly breaking down barriers of communication. Negativity can spread quickly.

To keep your finger on the pulse, Aguilar says: “it is essential that you can count on an outstanding and effective system of monitoring and analysis.”

“Hill + Knowlton uses Brandwatch’s cutting edge tools to gain a better understanding of different internet users, influencers, trends, and key conversation topics. Without the help of this technology, much of these would be overlooked by experts.” – Enrique Aguilar, Head of Data & Analytics at Hill + Knowlton in Spain.

These conversation topics could include instances that might indicate a crisis – for example, a really negative experience with online customer services,  a dangerously faulty product, or even misleading content. We know that this can happen in a matter of seconds: all it takes is a viral tweet for a brand or company to find itself in the middle of a brand reputation crisis.

“The response should be adapted to each topic, with the speed and specific quality required in crisis management, and should be accompanied by any information that has been gathered using the analysis tool.” – Enrique Aguilar, Head of Data & Analytics at Hill + Knowlton in Spain.

The impact of Covid-19 on crisis management

Increased brand visibility

“Covid-19 has exposed brands in the online environment like never before,” says Aguilar.

This means that it is very unlikely that public actions from brands (including statements or campaigns) will escape the criticism of at least some consumers online.

For this reason, “reactivity and proactivity will depend on the circumstances, the information we have access to, and the information available to the audience or users”, explains Aguilar.

Evaluating how consumers feel around a certain subject before bringing it to the fore (digitally or offline) can help minimize the risks.

But analyzing conversations should go further. Monitoring the association of a crisis issue – especially anything relating to the pandemic – with clients’ brands is essential.

This will allow them to detect threats and value-adding opportunities when their company needs it the most.

Changes in sales and promotion structures

Above all, says Enrique Aguilar, the pandemic has led to “forced changes in sales and promotion structures for products and services.” This has had an especially significant impact on major brands, who have had to strengthen their online channels due to the restrictions on movement and economic activity. These restrictions were established in Spain for 136 days.

“Keeping companies operating while working from home during the lockdown turned out to be another major challenge, both in terms of worker performance and in terms of how each company justified their approach,” says Aguilar, highlighting another potential topic for online controversy.

The importance of a notification system

Signals, a Brandwatch notification system, allows Enrique and his team to detect spikes in online conversations and content that may be of interest to brands (regulatory, financial, health, or technology-related, among others).

So, who receives these notifications?

“Notifications are sent to executives and managers who can use this information to provide more added value for customers. This then allows them to channel and process this information in order to draft a monitoring report, a specific follow-up report, or devise business intelligence strategies.” – Enrique Aguilar, Head of Data & Analytics at Hill + Knowlton in Spain.

H+K’s policy when reporting on the various data and insights collected through digital consumer intelligence solutions like Brandwatch Consumer Research or Vizia is based on “total transparency with customers,” he says.

To ensure that all actors involved in crisis management, both internally and externally, are aware of the severity of the issue, the information gathered, and the lessons learned, a quantitative monitoring report is provided.

This is also accompanied by a qualitative analysis that breaks down the main issues, how the risk developed, the interactions of the stakeholders involved, and other valuable information for the client.

We would like to thank Enrique Aguilar for taking part in this interview.

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