Whether you’re dealing with a high-risk, simmering issue or wrestling a full-blown crisis, effective public relations can help you protect one of your greatest assets — your reputation. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can happen in a heartbeat and the consequences of how we deal with a crisis can be devastating. Navigating through this storm is always complex and risky so expert advice is a must, but here are a few helpful tips to consider.
1. Have a plan
“By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail” is the famous Benjamin Franklin quote — and he was spot on. When a crisis hits and your world turns upside down (and sadly, it will), a carefully considered plan that steps you through a familiar process allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. This can be the difference between coming out stronger and not coming out at all. So, have a plan and practice it — trust me, this will help you sleep at night.
2. Mobilise a meeting
When a crisis hits, first mobilise a meeting with your crisis team — those people in the business who can make the tough decisions and then can make them happen. This meeting ensures you’re all on the same page, you’ve reviewed the plan, you have the right key messages in place, you know who your target audiences are, you agree how you will talk to them and who will be the point of contact. Your best defence in a crisis is having the right people around you to execute the plan.
3. Communicate effectively
Avoid a vacuum early in the crisis as this will send the rumour-mill into overdrive which can do irreparable damage. The more you keep your audiences in the loop and demonstrate transparency, the more they will trust you to find a solution to the crisis. Keep the lines of communication open throughout so people know you’re on the job and know where to find answers to their questions. This is equally important for your internal and external audiences. Those in crisis often forget about their own team who are being bombarded by questions from customers, their friends and family and possibly even that random man at the post office! Treat them right and you’ll have their loyalty and commitment both during the crisis and well into the future.
4. Learn from it
No one is perfect but if you’ve navigated through the storm of a business crisis, the last thing you should do is try and forget about it. Yes, take a moment to breathe, thank those around you and celebrate the wins; but then you have to go back and review what you actually did in the middle of the storm. Take the time to identify what could have been done better, ask others about their experience and then update the plan so you can respond next time. Fingers crossed there is no next time but when you’ve been through one crisis, you will definitely sleep well knowing you have a plan up your sleeve — just in case. J
This is just scratching the surface and of course, each scenario requires a different approach, but that’s what we love about supporting our clients with crisis management. So, if you’re looking to plan for the unexpected, reach out to our team for our ‘Fresh’ perspective!