Crisis management safeguards an organisation’s reputation when it is under threat.
It was developed in answer to the communication mismanagement of large scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s. It is now considered the most important element in public relations and is essential in the risk assessment process of evaluating and identifying hazards in the day-to-day running of your business.
Crisis Management Strategy
By creating a well thought out crisis management strategy, you are well placed to face any eventuality and share information throughout your organisation seamlessly. Good crisis management can influence the future of an organisation, positively or negatively impacting the financial, political, legal and even governmental.
Crisis Management can be broken down into four parts
1: Crisis prevention
2: Crisis assessment
3: Crisis handling
4: Crisis termination.
Firstly, assess what can go wrong in your business- from every angle and maintain a regular status update from your team members related to these possible disruptions. Consider a scandal within your board members, or an industrial accident?
· What will these do to your brand?
· Who needs to know?
· How you will resolve the crisis?
Rehearse possible situations with the team so if the time comes everyone can swing into action. Who is your spokesperson for each department? How will they communicate with each other and the media? Preparation will take away the stress in a tense time.
Should a crisis hit, be ready to assess the damage caused by the situation. Ask those closely involved to honestly answer what is the problem, what can be done now and who will be affected. By acting fast and knowing the truth you are in control of the situation right from the beginning. Crisis management is bringing control back from an out of control situation.
Once the situation has been evaluated, create a statement for the press, the statement should define the problem in the organisation, how and when it will be resolved. If the situation is ongoing, schedule a timed update on progress that will keep everyone informed.
Be sure to get this initial statement out to the press as soon as realistically possible and do not bend the truth or tell people what you think they want to hear - always remain factual. You are managing your organisation’s reputation, how you handle this will be crucial. Monitor your press coverage and be ready to answer any questions that may be asked. Ensure your spokesperson has a Q&A on what may be asked and what to say.
This can often be the trickiest part to get right in disaster management. Handled badly, it can make things worse, which is why many companies will leave this to the expertise of a crisis management agency.
The ideal outcome of a crisis management response is that OK the organisation has done wrong, not followed procedures, but they are owning up and correcting their mistakes for future customers and employees. Honesty and transparency always pays off in the long run.
Working with an Expert
The role of PR in crisis management is invaluable in creating and maintaining a company’s reputation—particularly if disaster strikes. Effective PR and communications can change perceptions with the right strategies and campaigns to avert a crisis. Offering guidance, dealing with media and press attention while providing ongoing support after an incident can work toward damage limitation and emphasise the more positive aspects of a brand.
Crisis management is much more than how you respond to an angry customer. It protects your business reputation and keeps your business operations running smoothly. So, don’t be afraid to get the experts in to develop your crisis management plan.