How to Prepare For and Manage an Online Crisis

What do you do when your reputation is taking a turn for the worse? Online it can take a matter of minutes before bad news spreads around the globe. An online crisis can have a devastating effect on a business.

If you’re not prepared and equipped with an action plan, you’ll be unable to respond in a timely manner. It’ll quickly get out of control. While no one wants to think about worst case scenarios, it’s always a good idea to have an emergency plan. Let’s take a look at some tips and steps to help you prepare for an online crisis.

Identify Key Individuals

If a crisis were to happen, who do you want and need on your team? Who needs to be immediately available to help with the crisis management? Take a look at your employees as well as your independent contractors. Consider looking at your legal, financial, and marketing staff to identify individuals and assemble a crisis management team.

Identify Initial Steps

What steps will your team follow in the event of an online crisis? When will statements be issued? Who will write the press release and when will they write it? Who will distribute the release and where will they distribute it? What role will social media play in your crisis management? What information will you post on your website? What steps will you take to contain the crisis? Will you hold a press conference and if so, who will manage that and what step will it be in your process?

Writing the Release

Almost immediately you’ll want to issue a press release that addresses the key issues. The first step to writing a crisis management press release is to identify those key issues. What happened? What is the actual problem? Define the problem and the key issues that you’ll cover in your press release.

Look to cover one to three key issues in your press release. Don’t try to address more than three issues. Chose the most important three. For example, if there was a security breach then the most important issue may be the status of your customers’ information.

Stick to the facts. Opinion has no place in a crisis management press release. You want to make sure that you stick to the facts. Remember the 5 w’s. Who, what, where, when and why are the only pieces of information that need to be addressed in your press release. Consider adding to the release the comment that you’ll issue additional information when you have more facts. This allows you to quickly address a situation even when you may not have all of the relevant information. It also positions you as a responsive company that cares about your reputation and your customers.

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