What do you do when a “crisis” happens?
A “crisis” is any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of your company, and is often caused or followed by adverse or negative media attention.
A crisis can also occur when, in the eyes of the media or general public, your company did not react to a “situation” in the appropriate manner.
It is essential to create a crisis management plan before a crisis can occur, so you don’t panic.
What to do before a crisis . . .
1. Identify a spokesperson — the only one who will speak to the media. (You may also designate a ‘back-up” spokesperson and technical expert.)
2. Craft appropriate messages. Focus on people, not profits: i.e., Don’t talk about non-loss of production time ($$ & profits) in a fire; Show concern for the welfare of the community and praise fire fighters for their valiant efforts.
3. Develop open lines of communication between the fire and police departments, health officials, and others, so you can coordinate statements.
4. Select a media center away from the “action”, but in a visible area. Don’t make it in a remote site because press may not show up and, if they do, you will lose their confidence as it may appear that you are hiding something.
When a crisis occurs:
First and foremost, it is crucial to tell the truth and tell it fast. People tend to remember what they hear first and last.
1. Contact spokesperson and others, as designated.
2. Determine the appropriate positioning or message statements that address the emergency. The first and foremost goal is protecting the integrity and reputation of the company. Briefly take responsibility (if appropriate). Don’t lie, deny, or hide your involvement.
3. Distribute statement to all staff. If a staff member, not the spokesperson, is contacted by an outsider or media, they will have a prepared statement and can follow it up with, “please contact Mr. T, who is the person who knows the situation in more detail.”
If you don’t communicate immediately, you lose your greatest opportunity to control events.
REMEMBER: Expressing concern and generating goodwill for the public and for your employees in your first interaction, will immediately help to re-establish your credibility and regain the confidence of your internal and external audiences.
Make an IMPACT!
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