A crisis situation has an immediate negative impact on any business. Once the fire is extinguished, the priority should shift towards the post-crisis recovery phase. A core element of crisis recovery at every step of the process is the idea of expectation management. Expectation and communication management is a balancing act and can determine the success or failure of the recovery plan.
Recognize the End of the Crisis
First, you need to be sure that the crisis is over. Depending on the nature of the crisis, there will be different signs indicating that it’s over. This will also influence how long or short the recovery period may be. In order to gauge the sentiment, look at media metrics and brand mentions.
Media metrics that indicate crisis conclusion include changes in topic coverage based on: tonality, volume of mentions, reach, and social engagement.
Assess the Damage
In order to put together an effective recovery plan, you need to understand the crisis, its causes and the aftermath consequences. This involves quantifying changes in corporate reputation, determining behavioural shifts for employees and stakeholders toward the company, and assessing the impact on the brand, executives or specific entity deemed responsible for the event.
Positive signs for the company may come when the perception among stakeholders starts improving, particularly the customer and employee groups. In regulated industries, it is reasonable to keep an eye on regulatory authorities to gauge their perception of the business.
Formulate a Repair Plan
Once you get a clear picture of the pre- and post-crisis reputation, the next step is to formulate an action plan that will help the company return to its former highs. During this stage, you should define actionable steps for every reputation attribute that was damaged during the crisis. This way you can have an organized approach to addressing every side of the business that was affected.
Shift to Proactive Approach
As the attention fades away from the crisis situation, reputation management activity switches to a more proactive approach. Companies should have an open communication with the public, and reinforce their dedication to pursue their mission and vision.
This phase is all about taking clear, impactful and sustained action. It’s not about getting publicity for those actions.
Cultivate Brand Values
Transparency has become one of the central aspects of communication in the age of social media. Everything gets shared, and spreads online rapidly whether that was the initial intent or not. There is a huge benefit from using social media as a tool to promote brand values. This is an opportunity to send a clear message across all media, which should either reinforce core brand values eroded by the crisis or introduce new values embrace following the crisis.
Employees and leadership executives must understand what happened and why, embrace the required corrective actions, and adjust their behaviours to signal the corporate brand is delivering on its promise.