From large corporations to schools, government entities and even your friendly, neighborhood ice cream shop, every organization – large and small – will undoubtedly experience a crisis at one time or another.
And while every situation is different, one thing remains the same – the decisions you make regarding crisis communications will either help your company ride out the chaotic roller coaster or, if you’re not careful, cause lasting damage to your brand.
Following the crisis communications strategies listed below could help you protect your organization during a difficult time.
Preparation is Key
While it’s impossible to know exactly when a crisis will strike, it’s important to anticipate and plan for potential crises.
The best way to prepare is to create a detailed plan outlining every possible crisis – everything from running out of ice cream on a hot, summer day to the building burning down – and the best possible response for each situation.
One of the biggest challenges companies face during a crisis is having too many cooks in the kitchen. The crisis communications plan should specify who will make final decisions on messaging, who will be the media spokesperson and who needs to be looped into all crisis communications discussions.
Accuracy and Speed
At Dittoe PR, we consider accuracy and speed to be two of the main ingredients in crisis preparedness – and while both are important, the two can sometimes create a confusing balancing act.
In the case of a major crisis, it is incredibly important to act quickly to stay ahead of the media and response from target audiences. However, that does not mean you should hastily share information or whip up a media statement too quickly.
Our recommendation? Face the crisis head on, only sharing accurate and factual information. If you are unsure of how the fire started, avoid speculation at all costs. Instead, share what you DO know. Avoiding the media during a crisis is often the biggest mistake a company can make, as it creates unnecessary rumors and spreads confusing messages.
During a crisis, it’s sometimes easy to forget about your employees while trying to communicate with the media, law enforcement, investors and everyone else on your list. However, neglecting employees could be harmful to your company’s internal well-being.
Oftentimes, employees catch on to crisis situations even if the company has not shared information and updates. Company morale can quickly diminish if employees think something is wrong, but are not receiving informational updates. Instead, the organization should always make sure to share the most up-to-date information with all employees to keep everyone in the know.
In the event of a crisis, the CEO and the executive team must consider the company’s employees as another constituency to respect and inform. This is particularly helpful should an employee want to discuss the company’s situation with others, on social media or even with the media. You should prep employees on what’s appropriate to share with their own networks (and also what’s not).
In short, managing crisis communications is no easy task. However, it doesn’t have to be detrimental to your brand if you prepare, act quickly, share accurate information with the media and your employees, and most importantly, avoid panic!
Additionally, working with an experienced PR firm can ensure success before, during, and after a crisis occurs, as well as strongly increase the chances of making it through unscathed.
Think your company or brand could benefit from expert crisis communications? We’re happy to help!