Crisis communications: 4 tips that will save your bacon
Crisis communication plans are a bit like ER doctors. You’re very glad that they’re there, but you hope you never have to use them. When it comes to crisis situations, I think it’s wise to adopt the official scout motto and always ‘be prepared’. In crisis situations, a business must be able to respond quickly, calmly and decisively. Here are four steps for effectively managing a crisis:
- Get a clear picture: Your first step is to get a comprehensive overview of the situation from your client. Speak to as many people as you can internally so you fully understand the issue, from all perspectives.
- Check Social Media: Investigate all of the relevant social media channels, news websites and blogs to see what the community is saying. What are the key messages that are being disseminated? Are they factually correct? If not, determine how these can be dealt with in your official statement.
- Develop a statement: Ideally, you would have already created a ‘holding statement’ in the event of a crisis. Holding statements are pre-prepared statements that address a range of potential scenarios. Now, return to your holding statement and update where applicable. It’s extremely important that you don’t put any ‘spin’ on the issue – be factual and transparent. A successful statement will be mindful of all stakeholders involved (not just your client) and will in line with their concerns.
- Don’t wait to respond: Although it will be tempting for your client to make like an ostrich and bury their head in the sand, it’s unlikely that the crisis will just go away. If they choose not to talk, it’s likely that the community will attempt to fill in the blanks with third-party information including rumours and innuendo. It also fuels more negative coverage. Be proactive and communicate with stakeholders immediately. Although your business will suffer in the short-term, it’s better to go out straight away and address the issue promptly. Many businesses that wait to respond to a crisis will often suffer long-term damage to their brand and reputation.