A crisis can occur anytime without a warning. Companies that successfully ride out the storm are usually the ones who have prepared for various scenarios and have their ducks in a row when a crisis hits them.
Moreover, a crisis can be anything from a negative review that goes viral, the death of an employee, change in management or lawsuits among thousands of other possibilities.
Many companies make the fatal mistake of assuming that their company is above any crisis and no crisis can affect them. Hence, they never invest in crisis communication training nor do they have guidelines set for what to do during a crisis.
Another fallacy that management teams believe in is that being absent on social media means that nobody can say anything negative about them.
It is imperative that spokespersons receive the necessary media training and prepare key messages in advance.
The best way to deal with a crisis is to be ready for it.
Another common mistake companies make is not reacting to the crisis early thinking that it too shall pass. Some companies think that their reputation will help them sail through the crisis, hence, they do absolutely nothing.
A crisis won’t go away on its own unless it is dealt with. In fact, it can escalate far and beyond if the issues are not addressed quickly.
Revisit your crisis and online reputation plan. Also, test your key messages early during a crisis. Have your spokespersons ready with the necessary data, key messages and a rehearsed holding statement.
Two heads are better than one. Make sure that there is a team taking decisions during a crisis. This team should be trained to handle and cover all key aspects of the organization. Going solo and trying to be a hero during a crisis without consulting other business heads, employees, investors etc can be futile.
During a crisis, all levels of the organization are likely to be affected and all must be kept informed and involved.
Working as a team can achieve a greater result.
A crisis is never about you. It is always about others. The first concern should always be people- be it client, customers, employees, the public, the environment or a group.
“It is the people’s own fault.”
“We did everything in accordance with Law 2.12.”
“The damage to the environment is minimal.”
Statements like these are likely to deepen the crisis. Train your spokespersons before you let them speak to the media.
Nothing shouts coward more than a CEO who does not address the media and only issues press and holding statements when the need of the hour is to show a human side.
Holding statements are effective in many scenarios and must be used effectively. When the situation demands, the spokespersons must be ready to face the media to address the concerns. This applies particularly when the crisis has a strong emotional or environment element such as a death, wrongful termination, oil spillage, etc.
Be ready with the facts but be empathetic. Remember, emotions are stronger than facts and during trying times, your communication must include that element. Also, avoid the use of technical jargon.
Enlist the help of media or crisis communication trainers whenever possible. Also, create a crisis communication document for your own internal purposes that can be revisited often.