Will the crisis lead TVF into a disaster?

The sexual harassment issue against Arunabh Kumar within no time turned into a crisis for both TVF and Kumar himself.  And needless to say the whole situation was very poorly managed by the company. Not only did TVF loose its goodwill gained over the past years by issuing a threating statement to the victim but also invited a lot of criticism on the statement made by Kumar defending himself.

In such situations the entire company’s reputation built over time is hanging on a delicate thread determined by how well the company can take control the situation and turn it on to their side. Although nothing can be commented on the credibility of the accusation yet, TVF could have taken over control of the situation in a much better way which would in turn have helped retain the goodwill and respect of its audience.

How TVF handled the situation:

  1. Issues a formal statement threating to find the author of the anonymous blog and bring them to severe justice.
  2. Kumar’s reaction to the controversy only sank the ship further down. His pride in being the heterosexual man objectifying women disguising with the compliment of sexy broke the hearts of many of his followers. He lost all respect from those who looked upto him and left them in shock.
  3. TVF employees share posts speaking in high regard and vouching for Kumar’s clean moral character.
  4. 2 of the 4 core members of TVF – Nidhi Bisht and Biswapati Sarkar tried clearing the air through their tweets.
  5. After five days, TVF issues another statement which was both apologetic and defiant in nature. Although they still denied the existence of any such employee in the company, they were sorry about their previous statement and termed it as quick and emotional.
  6. The statement also informed about IC committees set up in each location.

In event of any situation which can tarnish the reputation and throw the company into a crisis, it is always necessary and advisable to take control of the situation before speculations begin doing the rounds.

The best way to manage a crisis is by engaging. It is very critical for the company to be open and transparent in their handling of the situation.

How could TVF as a brand have handled it better?

  1. Immediate response is the first step towards reducing or controlling the impact of the issue. The first and immediate response should have been a neutral statement from TVF acknowledging the graveness of the accusation rather than wait for 5 days to do the same.
  2. Sexual harassment at a work place is quite a grave problem. The response from TVF should have been more responsible, and showcasing the appointing of IC Committees to investigate the issue.
  3. TVF should have been more proactive in their approach towards solving the crisis than wait for more accusations to pile up and then react or respond.
  4. After the first anonymous post, many other non-anonymous posts with similar accusations cropped up. TVF should have maintained a constant vigil on the new developments and responded to each of them instantly. A response with a little personal touch which said the company regrets the experience felt by the concerned party and assure someone from the company would reach out to them soon to look into the matter would surely reduce the impact of negativity around the incidents.

Having a personal touch in the PR statements go a long way in help taking control of the situation and establishing a responsible image for the company.

  1. TVF claimed to have no record of the existence of any employee matching the anonymous blogger having been employed with them. Rather than just making these claims, providing some form of data proof would have completely turned the tables in favour of TVF.
  2. TVF should go an extra mile and throw efforts in showcasing itself as a safe environment for not only women but any employee to work.

Although nothing can be commented on how true the allegations are until proven, TVF went from being a company which was most looked up-to to being looked down as one of the some unsafe place to work for.

TVF now has a long way to go in regaining the lost reputation and rebuilding the tarnished image.

 

 

 

 

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TVF – A Shocker

Recently, the virtual world suddenly went viral about an anonymous blog post alleging the founder of The Viral Fever(TVF) – Arunabh Kumar of sexual harassment. Having just celebrated Women’s Day and the important role women play in our lives, not only did the post break the Internet but also left most of us shocked. The blogger claimed to be an ex-TVF employee who during her stint of two years at the company was constantly harassed by Mr. Kumar.

TVF has been quite popular with the youth with their refreshing content in the web series space. As a newly converted TVF consumer, the incident came as a shocker to me as well. What was more disturbing was, the other non-anonymous accounts of women who faced other forms of non-consensual harassment from Kumar which followed the original post. While the anonymous post might have left a little uncertainty on the authenticity of the author and her post, the posts that followed by other women who worked with him in past and their horrifying experiences with him cannot be ignored. The number of women accusing Kumar of his actions have reached 50 as of now.

While TVF was quick to respond with their statement, it sounded more of a threat to the original anonymous author rather than talk about launching an investigation into the matter. The response surely did cause a lot of harm to the goodwill earned by the company so far.

This was followed by statements made by almost every employee of the company standing by and in favour of Kumar and some even personally vouched for Kumar and his moral character. What was even worse was the response of Kumar.

“Social media has already declared me an offender, but I am ready to address all the allegations against me. I am open to receiving a police complaint so that I can respond legally as well.

TVF is bigger than me. I am a heterosexual, single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she’s sexy – but this is only done in my personal capacity. I compliment women in my personal space and not at the workplace. Is that wrong?”

Really? Calling someone ‘sexy’ in an official environment and justifying it as a compliment? Not only does his statement sound creepy and self-centred but also makes the reader lean more towards believing exactly what he’s been accused of!

Of course the second statement that was issued by TVF five days later does speak of how they could have handled the situation better instead of issuing a response that was ‘quick and emotional’. But the damage had already been done. It would have been wiser for the company to have taken a neutral stand and immediately appointing a committee to investigate into the matter. That would at least have let viewers have faith in TVF as a company, the company we’ve all been looking up to not only for the path-breaking content they’ve been providing but also for being unbiased and composed under the stressful situation.

Whether the anonymous allegations will turn out to be baseless or will Arunabh Kumar be found guilty, only time will tell. However, TVF unfortunately, has now moved from being the most looked up to company to being the most dreaded company to work for.