Happy early Friday! I wish everyone an enjoyable and hopefully warm weekend! As we are getting ready to end the second full week of 2015, I thought a blog topic about being prepared for the New Year would be helpful.
We all deal with problems in our lives, both personal and professional, but we can be prepared for the problems at work. As PR practitioners we always have to be ready for different situations. Although we may wish for a perfect outcome, we can be prepared for problems. This is where crisis management comes into play.
Crisis management is when a business needs to handle an emergency situation quickly and accurately. The best advice I can provide is plan ahead. Have a plan for possible problems and decide on the best ways to handle the situation. For example, the vice president of a company decides to quit and go to a local media outlet and claim the company is mistreating employees. Your business needs to be ready to prove their innocence with facts, or if the claim is true own up to it, and explain how the problems will be solved.
Before I describe some steps to follow, always remember the objective of crisis management. The objective should be to minimize the damage of the company’s reputation and long term impact. This helps to ensure the company will survive after the crisis has ended. So here are some of my opinions for the best way to handle a crisis.
1. Get the facts
Before talking with the media and public find out all the correct information. You can’t expect to solve the issue if you don’t fully understand it.
2. Own up to the problem
If your company is to blame for the current circumstance, own up to it! By accepting blame for your part in the situation, it can show the company isn’t trying to hide anything. By denying responsibility, the truth could eventually be discovered and that crisis will be worse than the current one.
3. Solve the issue
Now that you know the problem and accepted responsibility for any parts you may have, it’s now time to figure out how to solve the situation. Meet with business officials and work out an ideal plan of how the company will approach the situation. You may not be able to solve it all at once, but be sure you’re heading in the right direction.
4. Choose the proper media channels
Depending on the type of crisis your company is dealing with, it’s important to use the right form of channel to communicate with your audience. For instance, if the company posted an inappropriate Twitter status, use Twitter to address how the problem will be solved. However, the larger the situation is you may need to use more channels. Just remember all social media posts should contain the same message. Having different responses will show inconsistencies and appear as if the company is hiding information.
5. Choosing the right spokesperson
When addressing the crisis, try to have a recognizable company figure in front of the camera. By using a familiar face, the public will be more trusting about the received information.
6. Learn from the mistakes
Remember what lessons were learned during the crisis and don’t let it happen again! Take each situation, good or bad, as a learning experience that can help you and the company in the future. Whether it’s from incorrectly handling social media or ensuring the same crisis doesn’t happen again.
So whether you’re a company official or just a PR pro trying to improve on your skills I recommend practice! Take a fictional crisis and imagine how you would handle it. Write out all your steps and talk it over with a friend or colleague. The more practice you have the better you can be!
Have you ever dealt with a difficult situation or problem? How did you handle it and what did you learn? Comment below!