Communicate Proactively During Time of Crisis

Protecting your company – or more specifically your “brand reputation” – is the ultimate goal during a time of crisis.  The ability to withstand and endure a few “chinks in the armor” goes a long way to maintaining a strong, stable reputation.

Many companies, however, fail to develop a crisis communications plan thinking they can and will deal with it as necessary (in many cases they feel they are not susceptible to a business crisis).  As a result, the typical reaction due to unpreparedness is to hide in the corner and hope the problem goes away.

But enter social media.  With the explosion in recent years of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.,   information spreads more quickly than ever.  Last month’s Dominoes crisis where two North Carolina employees posted aYouTube video doing disgusting things to food should be considered Exhibit A.  Hiding in the corner won’t make it go away.

Here are some questions to ask to determine your preparedness in the event of a crisis:

  1. Do we have a protocol in place outlining how we will react during the first few hours of a crisis?  Do we know where to funnel all information about the crisis?  Do we know who will serve as our company spokesperson?  How will we communicate the situation to our employees?
  2. Are we properly prepared to deal with media?  Does our media spokesperson have a familiarity and comfort level in dealing with the press?  Who is monitoring the general media as well as the social media outlets so we can respond accordingly?
  3. After gathering and reviewing the situation, how soon can we prepare ourselves with the facts to address our various publics (employees, customers, community, media, etc.)?
  4. What is the best and most efficient method to communicate our message?  How do we respond to their questions and concerns?
  5. During the initial days following the crisis, how can we best maintain and protect our reputation?  How can we show our willingness to be proactive in dealing with the situation?

Failing to address or “take control” of the situation can lead to more damage and deeper company wounds.  Taking hold of the situation, on the other hand, will have positive effects on your overall brand.

Written by Jim Miller

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