In my last blog article, I shared the importance of identifying a crisis, particularly on social media, and how to gain a better understanding of whether or not you’re in a crisis. Once you’ve determined that you are indeed facing a crisis, the next step in your plan needs to be effectively addressing and dealing with the crisis at hand. This can be anything from a reputation damaging customer service incident to a dangerous situation at a manufacturing plant.
While public relations professionals are often stigmatized as only advising a spokesperson to say “no comment” when faced with an uncomfortable question, today this strategy of dealing with the inevitable is just not good practice. Although no one ever wants to be faced with a crisis of any kind, these tips can help turn a negative situation into a neutral (or even positive) one.
Here are some tips to appropriately handle a crisis:
Own Up to your Mistake: One of the biggest missteps many companies face when dealing with a crisis is to place the blame on others, or attempt to evade guilt. In the end, this just makes the company look untrustworthy and unkind. Instead of avoiding what is bound to come, show empathy in the situation, apologize and fix it.
Be Transparent: One of the driving forces that can fuel a crisis is lack of information being disseminated from the company, through the media and to the stakeholders. It is important to tell exactly what you know when you know it and continue to provide updates as the information becomes available, even if it’s not much. By keeping everyone informed, it will reduce the likelihood of rumors and false information spreading, which can be even more damaging than the crisis itself.
Get Your Message Across: While addressing the media, it’s important to know the overarching message you’d like to convey, while remaining transparent. Be prepared to answer the tough questions open and honestly, but don’t let that distract you from the need to get your primary message across, no matter what that might be.
Celebrate Success: In a time of crisis, it’s easy to forget how all the chaos can affect your employees. It’s more important now than ever to celebrate every success, no matter how small. Did you meet a quarterly sales goal? Win a new client? Great, celebrate it. Whether you like it or not, your employees will act as spokespeople outside of the office. When things appear bad in media, it’s always beneficial to have employees willing to speak positively about what’s going on internally.
There’s no doubt that dealing with a crisis can be a stressful time for all those involved. But by following these steps, you can begin to rebuild your reputation and positive awareness for your brand.