Every organisation in the world is susceptible to a crisis, it’s how an organisation handles crisis that really shows the type of organisation they are.
Crisis can bring huge benefits to an organisation if handled correctly however, if an organisation does not have an effective crisis management strategy implemented, it can be detrimental to their reputation.
These top tips will help you on your way to creating one of the best crisis management strategies your organisation can have.
1. Be Proactive, Transparent & Honest
An organisations response to a crisis needs to be quick, don’t let the media or online warriors get in there before you. After all, you are the most reliable source for your audience so be transparent and keep your audience in the loop. If the crisis is your fault, then own up to it. It’s how you own up to and deal with crisis that will help maintain and rebuild your reputation in the wake of a PR crisis. Listen to your audience, after all its them that you need to maintain your relationship with because, what’s an organisation without their audience?
This can be one of the simplest mistakes an organisation can make. Keep your employees in the loop, it’s as easy as that. Keep them well briefed on upcoming campaigns and possible crises that may arise. Obviously, you can’t always know when a crisis will happen but having a well briefed team will encourage positive work ethic, trust and respect. If you don’t have this, it could lead to job losses, and they may even be the ones to speak negatively of the organisation if they haven’t been treated fairly. As an organisation, you should have an elected spokesperson who will speak when a crisis hits, this is usually a CEO or an Executive member of staff, all employees should know how to respond to media enquiries in times of crisis.
3. Be Consistent
In responding to a crisis, it is essential to keep your message consistent. Don’t let the crisis escalate into something it doesn’t need to. If you have different people giving out different messages, it’s just going to confuse your audience and display that your organisation clearly has very little skills regarding communication and lacks reliability. Have one spokesperson to speak on the issue, this will ensure a consistent message and reassure your audience.
Timing is key! Be aware of what’s going on in the outside world. After all, PR is all about being in the know and keeping up to date with current events. If your organisation puts out something that clashes with current news, your organisation will instantly come across as insensitive and to be quite honest your audience will lose interest.
Adidas were the perfect example of this. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the mammoth mistake they sent to participants of the Boston marathon a few years back. It went a little something like ‘Congratulations, you survived the Boston Marathon.’ It makes you think, who in the right mind thought this was ok to send out? Considering the marathon had been bombed three years prior to this, it’s a perfect example of how an extra little bit of crisis control and being aware of the outside world can have a huge impact on your organisation.
5. Social Media is your best friend!
Social media has transformed the dynamic of the PR industry, organisations now have a significant role in incorporating social media into their crisis management strategies. For many of us, social media is our preferred channel of engagement whether that be with friends, family or organisations. Therefore, in incorporating social media into your organisations PR strategy you will inevitably enhance relationships with your desired audience.
Besides this, if your audience is already highly active on social media, they will be more inclined to credit information they see online rather than through traditional methods, highlighting the importance of social media in crisis management.
6. Apologise, Apologise, Apologise
Take responsibility for your actions, your audience will expect an apology so make sure you give one them one. We’re all human, and everyone makes mistakes, in publicly apologising and committing to being better your audience will stay with you. All you need to do is be open about the situation. Make sure you do whatever it takes to maintain or regain trust with your audience.
7. Expected the Unexpected
I hope you’re a fan of friends, otherwise this reference will be totally irrelevant. All jokes aside, expected the unexpected. As soon as one crisis ends, another one can start just as quick, so learn from your mistakes and rework your strategy to meet your organisation’s needs. Your audience engagement and following should show the benefits of this.
We’ve now covered quite a bit on crisis management, does your organisation implement each of these steps?
Take a step back, look and adopt these top tips for an easier and stress-free life!
You can thank me later…
Sorcha Conway is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted through; Facebook: Sorcha Conway / Twitter: @SorchaConway / LinkedIn: sorcha-c / Instagram: sorchaconway515