Communication Management at the Core of Crisis Management Strategy
Corporate reputation is a company’s most valuable intangible asset. Communication management is a critical component of an effective strategy for tackling a crisis quickly and with limited negative consequences to reputation, market value and customer perception.
Nowadays, crises are structural, and the main aspect at risk is trust. Even though a crisis resolution entails certain operational, financial, or labour-related decisions, effective communication management is a major factor in curbing negative after-effects and ensuring the company’s reputation stays clean. Aside from economic and reputational damages, crises always create deep feelings such as fear, insecurity, and rage.
Companies should be aware of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. By having a clear outlook on the company’s position, they can devise a crisis prevention and management plan that will allow them to minimize the impact of a difficult situation. Companies must prepare for the worst-case scenarios, understand who their key audiences are, and be ready to send the right message to them.
Reaction to crises is imperative
Silence is not an option anymore. In this inter-connected world, if something can be found out, it will eventually be uncovered. Whenever there is an incident or bad situation, it’s best for people to hear it from you.
The only situation when denial can be entertained is when everything is false. Shifting responsibility doesn’t work, and can generate additional trust issues. When an organization reacts to a crisis with empathy, by understanding its audience, diligence by providing a solution, and honesty by assuming responsibility, it can turn around a negative situation.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should distinguish crises from issues and potential conflicts. A crisis often has responsible party — a brand, an individual that can be blamed or is expected to respond. General issues tend to be shared across multiple parties. While crises are usually solved from within, issues require a response involving collaboration across multiple sectors.
What should you do before a crisis hits?
While there is no single best strategy, there are different tools that can help prevent a crisis outburst: complete a risk audit, write a crisis-management guide, monitor issues that are known to affect the industry, and have an experienced, well-trained crisis team in place beforehand.
Crisis prevention and management ensure that you can address a potentially negative situation more effectively. Some crises can be prevented by identifying risk signals. Hence, it’s best to conduct an analysis on the risks, determine the potential consequences, and decide how likely these events are to happen. As part of a risk audit, you rank the likelihood of the various scenarios and prioritize your response accordingly.