So your company is in the midst of a major crisis, your phone is ringing off the hook from reporters wanting statements, customers are going crazy on your social media, and some of your employees are halfway out the door. The clock is ticking, what should you do?
At some point every business, whether big or small faces a crisis which most times is completely outside of your control.
Maybe you shipped a bad batch of product similar to the case of Samsung and their combustible phone.Or Maybe your back-end systems failed and customer information was hacked,stolen or lost. Whatever the case may be it is important to note that in situations like these,why the crisis occurred doesn't matter to your customers it's what you do in response and how you communicate that makes all the difference.
Here are some the tips we highlighted to handle your first crisis.
Know the issue
Ensure that you gather and analyze the facts thoroughly. This critical first step is often overlooked or rushed when people feel they have to respond rapidly.
When the clock is ticking, even the most seasoned communication expert feels the pressure to respond right away but that is rarely the best method. In many cases it's better to slow the pace of the story rather than release a rushed ill-considered statement, since having to retract information is almost ALWAYS a credibility killer. It's impossible to backpedal gracefully.
Appoint a spokesperson
After you have gathered all the facts and analyzed the situation you should then decide who can speak on behalf of the company and who definitely can’t. This is especially helpful as the public is able to put a face to the company However this can also be complex with bigger organisations with multiple senior team members, board members and high-profile stakeholders. Nonetheless you must identify the most important and well-informed individuals to act as a liaison for the public and media.
It is very, very, VERY important that the company becomes transparent at this time. Honesty is always the best policy. If the truth is tough to swallow, develop strategies for making it more palatable but do not change the facts.
Keep in mind however, that the public may be hard to convince and will assume you are manipulating and "spinning" the story. You can combat that assumption by saying what you know to be true even if "I don't know," is the case at that moment.
Be accountable for your actions
No one likes excuses so do not make them and Do not point fingers. Assume responsibility and that may mean fixing the problem, acknowledging the mistake or mistakes that were made and repairing whatever damage has been caused even if it turns out not to be your fault.
Finally, always remember, in a crisis, you only get one opportunity to get things right. Take the time and do the work to ensure you get every step right. That's what your customers and the broader public will remember the most.