Five things you must do in a crisis

A crisis can impact your company in a variety of ways and should normally pass, but the critical question to consider is will your company’s reputation survive.  These sure fire tips will help you navigate through a crisis and emerge with minimal harm to your reputation.

1. Prepare!
Do you honestly believe in your working life nothing bad will happen that could put your company or its reputation at risk?  The difference between a reputation being destroyed or preserved will be in the preparation.  A crisis management plan and a crisis communication plan are both essential to manage a crisis and continue your ability to deliver.  When the crisis hits there is no time to sit down and write a plan of action.  Preparing plans in advance will mean you can concentrate on managing, and where possible containing, the crisis.

2. A good spokesperson
A poor performance in the media can do considerable – sometimes irreparable – damage to your organisation, your professional standing and goodwill with stakeholders and audiences.  A crisis will be challenging enough to deal with at any one time, so having a media spokesperson who holds a senior position in the business, has knowledge of the crisis and the company’s policies AND be able to handle the tough questions, is vitally important to how this crisis will play out in the media.  The spokesperson should have undergone media training to handle these situations (but not 5 minutes before the story is breaking).

3. The essential holding statement
When ‘it’ hits the fan you must be ready to talk.  This is not the time to bury your head in the sand.  What you say first in a crisis sets the tone for the entire ‘event’.  You must be ready to come out with a holding statement at the very least.  This means acknowledging the problem, demonstrating compassion and talking about your course of action ie what steps you are taking to resolve the crisis.  The holding statement must end with the promise you will be back in touch with the media/public at a defined time to deliver further information.

4. Staying in the limelight
Ok so this doesn’t sound so appealing when you have a crisis on your hands but if no-one has the facts then speculation fills the gap and this could be your worst nightmare.  Your next few deliveries to the media/ public need to be updates of what you know, what you don’t know and what further action you are taking.   The more co-operative and visible you are, the more likely you/your organisation will be viewed as trusted regardless of the situation.  You only have to picture a company /spokesperson going to ground to understand what message that sends.  Remember if the media can’t get the story from you, they will find someone else and that may not be the perspective you want featured.

5. Be honest, open and transparent
People will forgive human error, mistakes or even poor judgement but they will never forgive a calculated lie.  Enough said!!
See the process through and in rebuilding your company’s brand after the crisis, adhere to the above tips to retain or win back stakeholder confidence.