You never want it to happen, but it can. You can get bad press or publicity. Something can go wrong with your business or in your industry and you must be able to respond. The stronger your response to a crisis, the better chance your company has not only surviving the crisis but thriving after it. So, what is a strong response? It’s one that is in line with your company values and message; it’s one that is authentic and transparent. And it’s one that is managed in a timely and respectful manner.
#1 Real-Time Awareness – It’s imperative that you stay ahead of any potential crisis. This means keeping your thumb on the pulse of social media. What are people saying about your company, your industry, and your employees? Create a social media monitoring strategy that ensures you know what’s being said about you and that notifies you when your brand is mentioned online. This not only gives you the power to head off a potential crisis, it also lets you know when your brand is being talked about favorably, so you can leverage the good news too.
#2 A Crisis Management Plan – Without a plan in place, it can take too long to react and respond to a crisis and it makes being proactive almost impossible. Social media and the news cycle move quickly. Too quickly for you to spend time “figuring out” what to do and who is going to do it. Create a crisis management plan that includes solutions and processes for several different scenarios. This way everyone knows their role and knows how to respond. You won’t waste valuable time trying to create a solution, you’ll already have one in place – and if everyone follows their roles and processes, then you should get through the crisis in decent shape.
#3 Be Transparent and Authentic – Include in your crisis management plan your values and the message you want people to receive in your press and public relations interactions. If you’ve made a mistake, it’s usually a good idea to own up to it, to apologize, and to make amends. Think about the recent Starbucks situation where two black men were arrested. Their initial response wasn’t enough to satisfy the general public. It was a widely shared opinion that they didn’t react seriously enough or fast enough to the situation. They had to come back with a second plan and offering to attempt to restore their reputation and to make amends for the situation.
Bottom line is those bad things can happen to good companies, and it pays to have a plan in place to not only respond publicly but to also try to be proactive and to head off any potential crisis. Sit down with your marketing and public relations people, consider including your sales team, and create a strategy to manage PR crisis.