Every business is vulnerable to crisis. At one point, you are at risk of encountering a public relations crisis and the way you address it can either build your reputation or seriously damage your brand.
In this day and age, news goes viral almost instantly and you need to be ready to respond to crisis immediately and efficiently in order to avoid any possible damage that it may create. However, the question is, are you prepared to deal with crisis?
In this article, Joel Lee, our contributor from Trumpia sheds light on how to effectively respond to crisis.
Is your organization prepared to deal with crisis? HBS professor Michael Watkins explains what you need to know, and offers a checklist to evaluate your preparedness.
Effective Response Strategies When a Crisis Occurs
Effective communication during a crisis will directly impact the success or failure of your response. Whether you are dealing with an emergency at your facility, or a public relations crisis, you must act fast and follow established protocol. Your communication with those you need to protect or your customer base should be quick, decisive and clear. When you are transparent during a crisis and you monitor the situation throughout the event, you will be more able to manage the situation as a whole. Connect with people during a major crisis, and be proactive, not reactive in your communication.
Act Fast by Following Established Protocol
In any type of crisis, you need to act fast. In one aspect, you don't want your communication to be rushed. On the other hand, you don't want to appear as if you are refusing to respond to a situation. You can use texting to communicate instantly, just be sure that the message you are sending is relevant to the recipients. In the event of a public relations crisis, a quick response that you are aware of the situation and taking steps to resolve the issue may be all that you can say right away. If you have a security risk at your facility, a message sent out to all of your employees can save lives. No matter what the event, how quickly you respond matters.
Monitor the Situation Continually and Adjust Your Response
In a public relations crisis, you have to continually monitor the situation. When you have taken the time to build up your reputation on social media, these platforms must be protected. Monitor what customers are saying about the crisis and respond with a consistent message when necessary. During a crisis response within your facility, you have to monitor the event throughout and make changes as necessary to keep everyone safe. For example, when you open up two-way communication with employees, you will be able to know what is going on and who needs help right away. You may be able to establish safe escape routes and learn more about the situation from those directly involved through solid communication.
Always Be Transparent in Your Communication
Communication during any type of crisis must be clear. Consider if you have an active shooter in your building. You don't want to send out a vague message telling your employees there is a safety risk in the building. Your message should state what the exact risk is, where they are located and include any safety tips if possible. As the event unfolds, further directions are essential to the well-being of those involved. If the crisis is a PR crisis, don't try to ignore the problem. Be transparent in your response. If customers are sending you questions or complaints, determine what your message is and stick to it. Don't try to avoid the issue with statements that don't mean much to your audience.
How you respond during a crisis will establish your professionalism. If the crisis is direct threat to those working at your facility, keep everyone safe with direct, two-way communication. If the crisis is one in which your reputation will be ruined, manage the crisis carefully. Pay attention to the exact nature of the crisis and determine what your message is. Take responsibility for your actions, or the actions of your employees. Look for a resolution and be up front about what that resolution is going to be.
Always monitor any type of crisis and look for new ways to improve your response. When you can act fast, you are being proactive. Don't wait for situations to occur and get out of control before you make any kind of response, and you will be seen as a leader who takes action.
Also read related content: 5 PR Crisis Management Cases We Can All Learn From