Calm before the storm: Crisis Management

When hit with a media crisis, navigating through relatively unscathed and with your reputation intact is the key objective. It can also be the most difficult.  

Corporate focus is now being placed on understanding how to react appropriately and tactically when a situation reaches a crisis point.  

In fact, results shown in a survey conducted by WillisTowersWatson found 79.5% of people felt in the next five years, there would be more of a focus on reputational risk, which clearly demonstrates the risk posed to businesses now and for the future. However, forward-thinking companies with a robust action plan – and the ability to follow that plan – will find their value and reputation upheld, both externally and internally. 

As we continue to deal with the pandemic, now more than ever, companies must follow the correct procedures in moments of adversity. With the public demanding transparency as a given, it is crucial that the decisions made by a business minimise any opportunities for negative repercussions and are carefully considered. In the following piece, we take a look at some of the key points to be addressed when faced with a moment of crisis.  

1: Crisis plan – have one in place 

This will include a crisis team, a small core of senior people, and advisors who will be aware of their roles and responsibilities. Within this team, one or two individuals should act as the leads and will be tasked with decision-making in key moments. However, in the case that a company is not ready or aware on know how to deal with it – do not expect the situation to boil down by simply ‘ignoring the noise’ as the companies who are left to play crisis catch-up are often the ones without a strategy and in turn, the ones who suffer most. External advisers are important – not just PR professionals, but lawyers too.  

2: Media training 

With the speed and a global number of media viewers, videos are able to be shared and viewed within seconds. Therefore, it is essential that the company spokespeople are well versed and fully briefed before they speak to any journalist or TV company. Media training is a vital investment to make. CEOs and directors, regardless of confidence, business acumen or knowledge, should receive training if they are likely to engage with the media. The majority of journalists are skilled at going for the knock-out blow when their ‘opponent’ is on the ropes – they will maximise an opportunity if they feel their interviewee is unaware of how to respond in tough moments. 

3: Remaining calm in a moment of crisis  

With the changing demands of our digitally enabled world, it can seem difficult to remain calm under the circumstances, yet the best way to navigate a crisis management plan is to think rationally with measured decisions. Companies seek a leader who steps up, takes control and handles responsibility. As stated by Mckinsey and company, business leaders should practice “integrative awareness” understanding the shift in reality (such as a reputational crisis) and consider how they are responding both emotionally and physically. A leader will understand that during a crisis, every move is monitored, words cannot be unspoken, and each action will have a consequence. Hence why it is crucial to approach with a cautionary yet reflective approach. 

4: Assessing the information and facts that are available 

Within a negative situation, you must process and understand all the relevant information to help support you. If a journalist wishes to cover a story on you, you must first surround yourself with specialists who can advise you on media training, interview tactics, and more. From an alternative standpoint, one element that cannot be overlooked is communications with internal and external stakeholders. If a partnering company or supplier is not directly informed of a negative situation by yourself, it shows distrust and lack of transparency which could ultimately lead to them severing business relationships in fear of their own business being shed in a damaging light. 

5: Don’t leave social media to chance 

In the current climate, society depends on social media and uses it as a platform for news, spreading information, and socialising with people globally. It is unfathomable that a business does not use social media during a crisis. Social media channels can be used to create a positive impact and allow businesses to understand the feelings of their consumers, it is making sure the strategy for dealing with the situation is well thought and an opportunity to address the public in a one-to-one conversation. 

In moments of controversy, asking for support from specialist individuals is not something to be feared. Contrary to belief, investing in external help is far more cost-effective than being caught cold by a crisis. If you wish to discuss a bespoke strategy on how to combat a potential future crisis, get in touch today.  

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