Crisis comms

Crisis communications

by | Jul 4, 2023

When everything is going well and business is booming that’s a really great feeling isn’t it? But what happens when something goes wrong, or when there is a story out there about you that casts a different light on things. This is where Crisis Communication comes into play – know your strategy and key team members who are primed to manage it, and get a statement out into the public arena as soon as you can.

A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on” – no matter who you attribute this to (Terry Prachett in my case) it is a fair observation of how situations can develop at great speed and why a crisis communication strategy is required in business. 

Whether you think that it is justified or not, the progression of technology and digital advancements of society mean that news travels faster than ever and businesses need to be prepared to deal with whatever might be thrown at them. We first discussed the challenges associated with this digital evolution back in 2021, and social media and perceptions of what is right and wrong, or acceptable and not, have continued to shift even further, with extremes of thought perhaps becoming more common. Crisis Communication management has therefore become even more important.

A crisis could be triggered by many scenarios and situations, most commonly financial, technological, personnel or simply organisational. No matter what the situation is, it is to be assumed that the reputation of the company and impact of said crisis is perceived by everyone aware of you, whether you manage your reputation or not. It clearly makes sense, therefore, to have your own input into the narrative and drive this conversation. 

The more prepared you can be, just in case, the better as it means that you will be able to respond in a more timely manner. Having a previously identified core team to deal with a crisis will help internal management of what could very well be a panicked and stressful situation. A clear process to follow ensures that nothing is missed, and it puts you and your team in the best position possible to manage any escalation or fallout. 

So what about the communications themselves? Honesty and transparency is the key here – even if it isn’t something that is easy to say, it is much better to be open about any problem or perceived wrongdoing up front than for it to come out at a later time or through another channel, potentially adding fuel to the fire. 

It is possible, indeed likely in most situations, that your statement will not please everybody – particularly in this age of judgement and trial by social media – but it is still vital to put yourselves on the front foot with your response to a situation. This is the best course of action to placate and inform the majority of your clients or customers who are looking for a more balanced response. By showing yourselves to be open and fallible if necessary, a positive resolution and mitigated reputational damage is likely. 

In this honesty, talk about the positive steps you have already taken and are continuing to take to put an end to the crisis, as well as any realistic expectations for conclusion. Make sure too that the same messages are shared internally and the team themselves understand the situation, as the last thing you need is internal damage and rumours as well. 

Having an experienced PR partner by your side at this time can be beneficial, as they are able to be a step removed from the crisis itself and objectively support the production of your crisis communications to help the reputation and situation management. Here at You Do Better, Ruby and her team of associates are on hand to help and advise as you need, so feel free to get in touch for a wider conversation, for help getting a crisis communication strategy in place, or for more immediate support. 

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