Regardless of who you are or what kind of organization you run, everyone and every business runs the risk of a crisis. When that happens, what’s the best plan of action? Bury your head in the sand? Eventually everything will get better, right? As attractive as that may seem at first, you won’t get any forgiveness or understanding from your stakeholders if you take that route. Don’t believe us? Ask Lance Armstrong, FIFA, Chipotle, or Volkswagen!
No, when it comes to fixing the results of a business calamity, crisis communication (management) is key. But, if you don’t prepare – you can’t repair. You must have a plan in place, just in case the unthinkable happens.
What Happens If…
One of the most important factors in repair after a crisis is communication. In the absence of sufficient external and internal communications, the following can happen:
- Reputation, bottom-line, and financial impact will be more severe.
- Often dramatically, the amount of time needed for things to resolve completely will be extended.
- At best, the organization will be looked upon as incapable. Worst case scenario – criminally negligent!
- Stakeholders will quickly become angry, confused, and react negatively because they don’t know what’s going on.
- A serious breakdown in operational response.
The following is not a tutorial regarding what to do in a crisis. The following is a plan of action that you should have in mind to prepare for any crisis that may occur. Planning in advance is always preferable to reacting when it comes to a crisis in business.
Before The Crisis Occurs
Think about what crises may rear their ugly heads before they actually do. This will accomplish two things:
- You can calmly think about worst versus best case scenarios and your responses.
- You may find out that by modifying existing operations you can prevent certain situations.
If one does not already exist, put together a team for crisis communications.
- This could consist of senior executives.
- Can also include major organizational division heads.
- Chief advisers could be legal counsel and public relations executives.
- The CEO should be included here.
Spokespersons should be chosen and trained. During a crisis, an organizational spokesperson should have the following:
- The right training
- The right position
- The right skills
Monitoring and notification systems must be established.
- Instant Messenger programs
- Text messages (SMS) or faxes
- Emailed video or audio messages
- Other social media
After The Crisis Has Occurred
Make a fair and unbiased assessment of the crisis situation.
- Don’t shoot first and ask questions later.
- Ensure that you have adequate information before you react.
- Not having a plan in place ahead of time means delayed action – have a plan.
Key messages need to be finalized and adapted.
- Regarding the crisis, what do your stakeholders need to know?
- Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be.
- For various forms of media, adapt your messaging appropriately.
Analyze the crisis. Okay, your company experienced a crisis. Ask yourself “What did we learn from all of this?” This should include the following:
- What did we do wrong?
- What did we do right?
- Next time, how can we do better?
- Regarding crisis preparedness, how can we improve?
Taking an “it could never happen to us” view of a crisis (and the management of one) is an open invitation for trouble. Remember, if something bad can happen, it probably will. You have but to look at the rise and fall of so many major corporations to realize this. Businesses that were once relevant and seemingly irreplaceable are now nothing more than a fleeting memory – and a bad one at that!
When you have JoTo PR at your side, you are prepared for any crisis. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make us a part of your crisis plan. Act now so you don’t have to react later.