Crisis is something every company, no matter how big or small, has the potential to face at some point or another. As such an all but inevitable, risk-management demands that businesses be both proactive to avoid as many as possible and active to solve them once they strike.
Ignoring and idly waiting a crisis out simply isn’t an option, or at least not a forgiving option, if you hope to retain stakeholder’s faith through a crisis.
Here are some crisis communication strategies to help ensure your business remains an active player, not simply riding the bench waiting to lose the game.
1) Make Anticipation A Priority
Proactively anticipating a crisis can help you avoid it, or at least help to minimize the effects. Not all particular crisis situations can be anticipated, but by planning for the known and generalized anticipation, you can set up the best possible response strategies before you’re under the pressure for an immediate response, which improves the quality of decisions.
Anticipation also enables you to evaluate operations and procedures to make modifications to areas that may create a problem or prolong responses after the fact.
2) Consider Your Stakeholders
Know your stakeholders, both external and internal; their expectations; and the roles they play before, during, and after a crisis. An often overlooked class of stakeholder is the employee.
Each one is a representation of your business, and how they individually and/or collectively respond to a crisis can make or break your business on a number of different levels, including customer interactions after the fact, direct actions or failure to act to the crisis itself, and lost faith from poor risk management policies.
3) Identify Your Crisis Communication Experts
Keep your crisis communication team small to avoid miscommunication and members not being on the same page. Most businesses use their senior executives in this role.
The CEO usually heads the team and uses PR executives and legal counsel as his/her advisors. A single spokesperson is established to represent the company in the media and in public dealings. If these employees are not available or do not have sufficient knowledge, then consider contracting an external PR company to act as your crisis communication team.
4) Avoid “No Comment” Responses
Your crisis communication team’s first priority should be to develop a general holding statement and one for each of the top crisis risks identified from risk management efforts. “No comment” responses never work out well.
For private business, such is rarely received positively by the public and stakeholders. Any holding statement should clearly, concisely, and effectively communicate your business’s status during and after crisis. Don’t forget to periodically assess these holding statements, amending, adding, and deleting as needed.
5) Assess Before You Respond
Knee-jerk responses and rash decisions also seldom work out so well. Why? They’re usually done without all the facts and knowledge necessary to make an informed decision, statement, or response.
Take a moment to ensure the crisis response team has accurate and complete info so that they can respond appropriately. Anything less and you’re only further losing the faith of stakeholders and the public.
6) Use Each Crisis And Near Crisis As Learning Moments
It’s easy to get so caught up in celebrating avoiding and minimizing crisis that the contributing causative factors often get swept aside. Make sure that your crisis management team has a post-crisis game plan to assess each event and implement any necessary countermeasures to prevent a reoccurrence.
The crisis team should also analyze their approach, using it as a learning curve to possibly implement even better responses and proactive positioning for future issues.
While nothing can shield a business from the possibility of crisis, these steps can help you lessen the risk and minimize the effects. Having a strategy in place serves to keep your business’s stakeholders and yourself calm until the issue can be handled the best way possible, which is a must in any crisis