An apologetic Press Release or a CEO’s media statement is not enough to save the tarnished image of a brand. An effective Crisis Management requires more than that. Since bad news becomes viral within minutes, organisations should always be ready to respond to crisis situations, making use of all the available platforms to communicate.
Market experts feel that when an organisation commits a mistake, they should accept responsibility for the blunder caused.
What is Crisis Management?
A crisis is defined as something which threatens the reputation and at times, the survival of the organisation. Ranging from the closure of services to an employee’s misbehaviour, the nature of crisis usually varies from one company to another. It is an oft-recurring trend seen among the business enterprises wherein negative news eventually leads to crisis situations.
The growth in the power of Online Media ensures that the ‘bad’ news spreads as quickly as possible. Irrespective of the nature of the crisis, efficient management is important to minimise the damage.
Crisis Management is about having a ‘plan’ in place when things go haywire and taking remedial steps if a business is threatened by a sudden untoward occurrence that has negative implications.
Is Communications Really Important?
The approach used by an organisation to manage a crisis situation helps to make all the difference. An organisation should never let a crisis escalate beyond control to retain its image. Being proactive has helped many businesses across the globe to communicate efficiently during times of crisis.
When a crisis involves public interest, the onus lies on the company to keep the audiences informed about the latest happenings. Allowing the media to create their ‘own’ version of a crisis situation can be harmful. Crisis communications aim to project that the company is:
- Taking steps to resolve/control the crisis
- Engaged in its routine activities
- Successful in garnering support from the audiences and stakeholders
Improper handling of crisis communications leads to chaos and negative publicity.
Also Read: Effective ways to handle negative publicity
What should be communicated during a crisis situation?
Although it’s true that no two crises are the same, there are certain principles that need to be kept in mind while drafting the key message.
Talk about your company in regard to the visible industry trends. For example, “Due to the surge in the raw material prices and decline in cheap labour, we are forced to increase our products pricing”.
Create a message that shows you realise the gravity of the situation and understand why your audiences are dissatisfied. For example, “The company regrets the inconvenience caused due to the closure of services”.
Put forth the actions taken by your organisation to counter the crisis and share examples of past situations where issues were handled maturely. For example, “We have contacted the local authorities and a 100-member team is working 24/7 to deal with the situation”.
Respect can be gained when you admit to your mistakes. Audiences prefer brands that follow an honest approach. For example, “We apologise for the situation and are constantly in touch with the affected families to bring improvement in the situation”.
How to prepare for a crisis?
Good preparation is a crucial part of crisis handling. First, create a crisis communications plan and secondly, aim to pre-empt crises whenever the situation demands.
A basic plan should focus on relevant areas such as –
- What are the key messages
- Develop a relevant statement
- Choose spokesperson and brief them
- Ensure all communication mechanisms are in place and create a protocol accordingly.
One of the most important elements of implementing a plan is getting the right messaging and taking swift decisions. Any strategy that has been developed to review the corporate crises should focus on handling the media based on the assumption that the bad news will garner public attention sooner or later.
As the customer demand for advanced preparation has gone up in recent times, crisis preparedness is making a big impact across industry domains. If you believe that your organisation is not completely prepared or under-prepared to handle any kind of crises, consult a Public Relations agency as they can help you become part of the prepared minority giving you an edge over your competitors.