Mastering Crisis Communications
Crisis situations are inevitable, both for bigger and smaller companies, but the main thing that can change a company’s outlook during such a situation is how it will handle the crisis itself and communicate with its customers.
For example, a few years ago, when Samsung released its newest smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, people on social media started talking about how some of the devices caught on fire, which led to Samsung recalling over 2 million of the smartphones and citing faulty batteries as the cause of the entire situation.
Unfortunately, the company’s explanation behind the issue arrived three months late, which caused a 96% decrease in operating profit in the mobile division, because every channel was rampant with speculation about the cause of the fires – and some airlines even stopped passengers from bringing the device on their flights.
And what happened in this situation can easily happen to other businesses, which is why companies must always be prepared for a PR crisis – no matter when it ends up happening.
Because of social media platforms, customers these days expect a response to any issue as fast as possible from the company. This means whenever a company doesn’t respond in a few hours, the public will start to speculate and jump to conclusions, and in the end, the company will be at fault for not taking control of the narrative sooner.
When responding to a situation on social media platforms, it’s best to do so on the same platform where the crisis first appeared, which means if any negative comments first appeared on Twitter, they should be addressed on Twitter first and foremost, while other platforms can be updated later. And the longer that companies leave the public questioning and without answers, the angrier and louder that audience will become.
Companies should try thinking from an objective perspective, and answer what they would want to know if someone was a victim of a crisis, and start from there to craft a response to a crisis. During the crisis, the public is going to need answers, even if the company says that it doesn’t really know what or how things happened.
Keep in mind that the company will be under a microscope during the crisis, and every move will be judged, so it’s much better to be authentic and transparent than to remain ignorant of the situation. And if there is any further information about the situation itself that could provide even more negativity if it was suddenly released, the company should state this promptly, as it will have a better chance of controlling the information flow.
If a company is genuine and transparent during its response, a lot more people will come to support the business during its time of crisis – even those not connected to the business itself. And the public will find their support even more valuable because they’re not really connected to the company, which is what businesses need during a crisis. However, this supportive community is built from day one, and not during a crisis, and their support will help mitigate the crisis and uphold the brand’s image in difficult times.