These days, companies have to think about when a crisis situation is going to happen, rather than about whether it’s going to happen at all. Because when a crisis situation does happen, both the media and the public demand more information than ever.
This means there’s no time for a business to calmly reflect on whatever happened, clear facts with every employee, and plan a response. That’s why the key to crisis management is to prepare a plan in advance.
Understanding the Situation
During crisis situations, a business should not make inaccurate public statements, speculate, or make any assumptions.
Those things can only add more confusion to an already negative situation. That’s why before a company ever starts talking to its audience or the media during a crisis, it’s important for it to clarify what has happened and understand the situation in depth.
The business should fully understand what has happened thus far, and although crisis situations can evolve and develop further, companies should know who to refer to for essential information.
Companies that have developed a crisis communications plan, and that have thoroughly tested that plan with different realistic scenarios, should also make sure that they have a crisis team in place.
Every member of the crisis team should know their own assigned roles and tasks as soon as a crisis situation happens, should have crisis management media training, and should notify any other relevant employees about the situation.
During a crisis, it’s important that companies know which outlets are interested in covering the story, as well as what’s being talked about regarding the topic.
This will help a business identify any potential inaccuracies in the situation, figure out themes, understand where all the information is coming from, and know what statements should be provided to the public when the time comes.
Companies should make messages and statements to the media and the public as soon as possible.
This shows that the businesses are in control of a crisis situation, and that they are taking things seriously and preventing rumors or speculation.
During the high-pressure situation of a crisis, it’s tempting to look at all the media outlets interested in covering the situation as an enemy, and to avoid making any sort of comments.
However, a company’s holding statement won’t last a long time, which is why it’s important that businesses get at the front of any development by continuously releasing new information and details at regular intervals.
The public and the reporters should know when and where they can expect updates from a business, which will also help take some of the pressure off the company’s communications team.
Finally, companies should also be continuously showing to both current and potential customers that the severity of the crisis and its impacts are understood by everyone involved.
When a crisis situation is about a physical accident, companies can show they care by helping the people that have been injured.
If a crisis situation is due to a loss of data, companies can once again show that they care by helping any of the affected customers with measures to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.