All businesses, big or small, will face some kind of public relations crisis in their lifetime. Knowing this will happen — and being prepared for it — is the best way to manage these scenarios. All businesses are vulnerable to a wide range of unexpected threats and in this age of anything going viral at any moment, businesses need a strong crisis management PR strategy they are able to implement quickly across multiple platforms.
The best way to plan ahead is to anticipate crises by gathering a team of employees to help brainstorm potential crises. A great way to prevent crises is to modify existing methods of operation that could cause possible issues. It’s much easier to create plans for managing crises when one isn’t actually happening.
Have a Clear Plan
Make sure there is a protocol in place for how to handle crises. Put on paper who is to be notified first, what the internal review process is going to be, and who is authorized to speak on behalf of the company. This will avoid many potential missteps companies make when there is no prepared crisis management plan.
Be sure anyone who needs to know within the company is aware of what is going on, including stakeholders who will be expecting answers. Refrain from “no comment” answers as this makes most people think the company is guilty or at least not taking responsibility. Take responsibility, respond with “We are assessing the situation,” and make sure that is actually what is happening.
Transparency is more important today than ever before, so be sure to follow through on any statements. This is how a prepared crisis management plan will be beneficial. Employees know their role, and there is an existing plan to review the situation.
Get Ahead of the Crisis
Getting ahead of the story is a must as well, but not at the expense of being human. Make sure all the details of the situation are known prior to any statements being released. Talk to the team, talk to other employees if needed, and put yourself in the consumer’s shoes to ensure that perspective is understood. This allows the response to be genuine, which is important. If consumers feel that a company simply doesn’t care about the issue and is only giving an apology because they have to, it simply won’t work to dissuade the negative press.
Get ready for a social media onslaught even on platforms the company doesn’t use. It’s a very powerful tool for consumers to keep companies large and small in check. It can be frustrating to have to address these comments, yet not doing so will definitely yield a far more negative response.
Be sure to check all planned content and decide if it’s fitting to go ahead with promoting a company during a crisis. A better choice would be to pause all PR messages and only address the crisis. Stay calm and avoid knee-jerk reactions to comments and posts on social media. Make sure the company is addressing the crisis in a genuine way with respect to all consumers.
Following these steps will help any business formulate a crisis management plan that allows a company to acknowledge the incident, accept responsibility, and apologize.