Crisis management is a mix of art and science — learning from past incidents, responding in a measured way and using strategic teams when needed — including taking appropriate steps to rectify any wrongs.
Communication is the central aspect to minimizing the impact of a crisis and reducing the potential negative effects on one’s reputation.
Learn from Past Crises
History repeats itself and by understanding and learning from past incidents businesses should improve. Besides building up resilience towards negative events, organizations can learn how to prevent similar situations from happening. This means that a business needs to have a good understanding of its vulnerabilities and identify crisis-types in its industry. More importantly, than preparing for the last crisis, teams should be prepared for the ones that might happen.
By looking at the past, organizations can better understand the likelihood of facing such an event, how they can best approach it — including what decisions will need to be made.
For example, looking at patterns in the past can help answer questions such as “what led to this kind of crisis?” and a look at responses can highlight answers to “what was the response and how effective was it?” and “which key stakeholders should we engage, address and what will their role be?”
Strategize Responsible Teams
Having an understanding of how able an organization is to handle a potential crisis is important.
From PR teams handling media inquiries, to communications teams responsible for communicating with employees, to social teams who monitor reputation on online channels, several departments collaborate to address crises. In addition to these, teams such as legal and compliance should have a clear picture during a time of crisis with core employees responsible for making the critical decisions.
A multi-disciplinary approach is paramount, various types of expertise is needed during uncertainty. From the best reputational experts, to HR teams, to lawyers understanding which skills are needed and when, can help organizations respond and rebound quickly.
Listen and Respond To Customers
With the overwhelming influence of social media brands now have to pay attention to more communications channels than ever before. Whether a crisis is unravelling on social channels, or even if a company’s marketing campaign is backfiring, listening and responding to customers’ concerns and complaints should be at the core of any communication strategy during a crisis.
Keep in mind that today organizations are now judged not only whether they offer an apology, but on how they apologize.
Embrace Social Media
With a well-structured 140-character acknowledgement an organization can quickly turn around a crisis situation. Although sometimes perceived as chaotic, social media can be very helpful during crisis situations.
Social channels allow organizations to monitor sentiment in real-time and also participate in a two-way dialogue about unfolding situations. As negative reactions spread on social channels, a quick resolution communicated via social media will just as quickly turn the situation around. The timely and one-to-many nature of social media can help turn negative situations into positive experiences.