By Ryan Tessier
Crisis management is often considered when the worst has already happened. Whether you’re a CEO of a multi-national corporation or the sole proprietor of a modest startup, there’s always the potential for mistakes that can have a negative impact on your branding. Crisis management is best leveraged when it’s implemented proactively. The process of planning, implementing and reviewing all the necessary facts can help mitigate the damage from bad PR when a disaster takes place. Take these five tips to prepare for unforeseen circumstances.
1. Create a Crisis Communication Plan
They say preventative medicine is the best way to stay out of the hospital, the same can be said for your image. Drafting a crisis communication plan will not only give you a reference point for when things are in panic mode, but also differentiate a minor scenario from major so you can plan accordingly. Not only will you be well equipped in the event of a mishap, but also employees will have confidence knowing how to handle the press and what not to say on social media.
2. Assign a Spokesperson & Practice
While some owners are stellar entrepreneurs, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are prepared for the media spotlight; speaking in front of investors or a boardroom is not the same as handling the press. All it takes is a slip of the tongue to land the company in more hot water than it began in. Assign a spokesperson that is knowledgeable in best interview practices and can stay on message. Be sure to practice in advance to prepare for any difficult questions.
3. Assess Potential Damage & How To Mitigate Public Reaction
When a crisis hits it can be instinctual to act as quickly as possible to put out the fire. While it is certainly important to handle a crisis in a prompt manner, it’s equally important to take time to get the facts and the full picture to devise the right go-to-public strategy. Grab your team and run through how you want your brand to be presented in the public eye along with any tricky questions that might be asked.
4. Timeliness & Accuracy
In the event of a slip-up, it’s best to tackle the issue head-on rather than hoping it ‘boils over.’ While public reactions will change based on the issue itself, there could be a firestorm of negative reactions in media and social media already taking place. Do a thorough review of the information and respond quickly to ensure rumours don’t muzzle the truth. The public will appreciate transparency and a swift response. Remember that by not providing information, you’re allowing speculation and inaccuracy to dominate the conversation.
5. Post-Incident Review & Adjust Accordingly
After the smoke clears, brush off the debris and ask what can we improve on for next time? Having a post-analysis of the situation will identify what you did right or wrong so you can be prepared for any future issues. Try having a brainstorming session with your team to hash out what should be included for next time so everyone has a better understanding of crisis management next time it’s needed.