Avert “Crisis Communications” by Planning Ahead
Crisis is relative. It takes many forms within an organization. In our experience, crisis has ranged from unexpected executive changes to charges of homicide, from products that didn’t deliver as promised to suddenly plummeting share prices. While these extreme situations represent challenges for any company, there are also lesser calamities that can rapidly spin out of control. And, due to the viral nature of social networking, like it or not, your organization might wind up “in the news.”
The upside of social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are their ready-made infrastructures that enable companies, causes and individuals to quickly bring positive messages to market. Yet, similar to computer hackers, there are unsavory individuals who monitor these networks – as well as other streams of information – and use social networking to bring industry giants to their knees and send smaller companies running for cover.
Every crisis requires a response. That response needs to be truthful, timely and most of all, unemotional. When companies are under attack, their normal reaction is to strike back. Yet, given the long-term ramifications, nothing could be worse. That’s why companies need to rely on their outside PR counsel to craft “standby statements” that can be used to control the message in manner that casts a company in a positive light without continuing crisis-like conditions. Crisis is when cooler heads need to prevail.
Inevitably, every crisis communications situation is multifaceted. When sizing up a situation, we recommend that our clients consider two factors immediately: how will this situation affect existing customer relationships and how will it affect employees. Taking a step back from these key audiences, the next ripple in the ring to be considered are prospects and any job candidates in the pipeline. Getting your message to these audiences first will elevate their confidence in your company’s ability to execute quickly and decisively. Social networking is not the right means of delivering messages to these audiences; picking up the telephone and nurturing the relationship one-on-one is far more powerful than tweeting.Continued on the next page