Sooner or later, a business may experience a public relations crisis, a significant disturbance which can result in extensive news coverage and public scrutiny. Understandably, the crisis will have an impact on the business; however, what will have a greater impact is the way the business responds to the crisis. It’s imperative that all businesses, large or small, be prepared to handle a crisis situation since it has the potential to cause significant disruption and long-term impacts to a business’ reputation.
Some examples of a crisis situation could include natural disasters, investigations into inappropriate or illegal activities, and violations associated with financial, ethical or legal scenarios.
Perhaps the most important tip is – People value companies they feel are honest. For this reason, get ahead of any issues that may arise, so it doesn’t become a crisis. Don’t make a situation worse, as it will only hurt the company’s credibility.
Use these tips to help create your crisis communications strategy:
- Create and update a crisis communication plan. Assign responsible parties to take care of different aspects of the crisis. Practice and update your plan regularly.
- Establish your spokesperson. They need to speak well under pressure, know how the company operates and have media training. Prepare them with questions they may encounter.
- Take responsibility. Don’t assign blame to someone else. Accept responsibility and give a genuine apology.
- Address questions/needs. Provide answers to the immediate questions that people have, including journalists.
- Sympathize/empathize. Connect with people by sharing genuine emotions about the crisis. They’re not looking for what the business’s thoughts are, but how the individuals that run the business are responding to the situation.
- Come up with a solution. Share what your plans are to resolve the problem and make efforts to follow through.
- Apologize! End your response with an apology, if needed, and thank involved parties when appropriate.
These tips are a great starting point for your business. Navigating through a crisis can be difficult and tedious work. If you’re in need of assistance, our team is only a phone call away. We would also be happy to help you in either creating or updating your plan.