In the professional world of corporations, communication in all forms is said to be one of the most important aspects of the rise or fall of any entity, and because communication itself is a massive subject, we will focus here on one of its trickiest aspects: crisis communication.
For more regarding communication in general, you can check out this blog.
Crisis communication has become an important part of any corporation, mainly due to the rise of social media and the effects it has on brands and brands perception. From Volkswagen to Chipotle, companies have realized that just running out the clock on a controversy is not an option anymore, and in the age of social media, facing the crisis you have is the only way out.
To understand more how to effectively manage a crisis, let’s divide our topic into three main blocks, pre-crisis, amid-crisis, and post-crisis.
It’s extremely important in the current days to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your brand’s public perception.
For starters, there needs to be a well-trained team/task force ready for any crises your company might face. Having a team ready for such incidents will save your precious team when you need it the most.
Also, the team must have well-defined roles, especially when it comes to the head of communications for this team.
Another thing you can do is diversify the members of the team, try to represent all branches/departments of your company in it.
Finally, as part of being proactive, try to monitor your public perception so you can catch any early problems before they turn to crisis.
During the crisis you face, there need to be specific methods to handle specific groups.
First and foremost, you need to identify the message you want to get across and stick to it. Your employees are also PR representatives for you, so you need to make sure they are onboard and confined within the message you want.
Before taking any action, you should always own up to what happened, and try to avoid any knee-jerk defensive reactions.
For your crisis team, we mentioned previously, the need to work closely on the matter based on their predetermined roles, especially the head of communication. The worst thing you could do is have more than one official spokesperson on a matter because that leads to more confusion and uncertainty about your message.
When it comes to your customers, there needs to be an exclusive message to them with some level of transparency that wouldn’t hurt your public perception. For each induvial case you’ll have different messages to convey to your customers, but as a golden rule, your goal should be gaining/regaining their trust.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, your handling of media. As mentioned previously, to keep a confined message you should always rely on one spokesperson to address all forms of media. When it comes to handling the media amid a crisis, you should always present the human side of your corporation, because the media isn’t the judge, the judge is the public and one of the most effective methods is to appeal to them on a human level.
After the controversy/problem have flamed down a bit, you need to take a couple of public steps before totally moving passed it.
Address the changes already done and the changes that will be done regarding the issue. This is mainly directed to your stakeholders and the media, to ensure them that what happened was a learning experience rather than just a problem that was fixed.
Internally, you should identify the key learnings of you went through, whether it was the origin of the crisis or the pros and cons of your crisis communication, use the negative experience you had to build a stronger base for your company.
In conclusion, in the age of social media and instant news, being a reactionary as a company doesn’t work anymore. Be proactive, be ready, and make sure to protect your most important asset, your brand.
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Has your company ever faced a crisis? And how did you deal with it? Tell us in the comments.