Social media and smartphones equipped with readily available cameras make it increasingly easy for one person’s bad experience with a business to become headline-making news. Companies and organizations of all sizes should always be prepared for the worst when it comes to dealing with difficult PR situations. The best way to avoid a bad press after an unforeseen incident is to create a comprehensive crisis communications plan for your business or organization.
Here are 6 steps to create an effective crisis communications plan:
- Figure out what sort of crises your business or organization may face in the future. Could your business have an issue with a product roll out? Does your business provide services that could be done improperly? Does your business collect personal information in an online database that could be at risk of a security breach? Brainstorm all possible bad scenarios and try to think of the best possible outcome in each situation.
- Select the members of your crisis communications team. When a crisis situation arises, these staff members should focus exclusively on finding out as much information as possible about the incident. It’s helpful to have a single point person who can be the voice of the business or organization during a crisis. This individual should be trained and have a team of staff who can help provide them with additional support.
- When a crisis is first exposed, acknowledge the issue and assure your customers that you are addressing it. Ignoring a problem or flat out denying anything happened will only anger your customer base. Waiting too long to respond can also have a negative effect. Even if you are only just discovering a problem, it’s best to acknowledge it as quickly as possible.
- Take time to evaluate the whole situation, but don’t take too long. It’s important to assess the whole problem before jumping to conclusions. Having all the information about what happened and why it happened is crucial in helping your business move forward.
- Craft crisis messaging that is tailored to specific audiences and platforms. When talking to various stakeholders (customers, clients, press, company staff, business officials, etc.) messaging should be tailored to address individual needs and concerns. Consider what each stakeholder would want to know and what questions they would have. Traditional press, social media, and email can all be used to share your updates about the situation.
- Learn from your mistakes and show the public that you’ll be better prepared in the future. The final step of your plan is to make sure the situation won’t happen again. Adding additional quality control checks, increasing security measures, or enforcing high level staff training are all possible solutions to avoid future emergencies. Once you decide what should be done to avoid a repeat crisis in the future, announce your new policies and procedures to the public.
Bad crisis communications can destroy a businesses’ otherwise good reputation. Having a crisis communications plan can save your company from the scrutiny of today’s 24-hour, social media-driven news cycle. It’s not always easy to see where your business or organization may be lacking in crisis planning. The Parkside Group can help you navigate the tricky world of crisis communications both before and during an unexpected crisis situation.
Get a free consultation and find out how the Parkside Group can help you strategize and implement your crisis communications plan.