Most brands will experience a crisis approximately every two years. Don’t wait until you’re in the midst of a disaster to seek help. With thorough crisis management planning, a business’s reputation is much easier to repair following a disruptive event.
It’s not possible to have a crisis plan for every worst-case scenario, such as a terrorist attack or a global financial crisis. But you should at least have a risk management system in place to find your company’s weak points.
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What Is Crisis Management?
Crisis management is a series of steps performed by an organization to deal with an event that disrupts operations, threatens to harm people, damages your reputation or negatively impacts your finances. The main goal of our crisis management strategy is to regain control of your brand’s narrative.
Crisis management firms like ReputationManagement.com are experts in communications, public relations, social media, and marketing. Additionally, controlling your online image during a crisis requires a deep understanding of search engine reputation management.
The most effective crisis management plan begins by protecting your brand long before an issue arises. It’s easy to put off risk management when things are going well. However, inadequate preparation can have serious operational, legal and public relations costs.
- Unprepared stakeholders are more likely to make poor decisions.
- Businesses might be seen as inept for issuing inaccurate or conflicting statements.
- Failing to prepare may increase recovery time.
How a Crisis Affects Your Business
Some incidents are out of your control like natural disasters and industrial accidents. Yet other crises may be directly caused by your company or employees. An improperly planned tweet or misstatement can easily erupt into a social media crisis. While there are an infinite number of scenarios, businesses are primarily impacted in three ways.
The news cycle during a crisis can batter your brand’s image with constant negative press. Damaging stories flood traditional media like print, television, and radio. Furthermore, digital content from websites and social media continue to tie your brand to the crisis. Your company’s mistakes, actions and inactions will be criticized and broadcast around the globe.
The ongoing media attention could cause negative articles to remain in Google search results long after the crisis has ended. Once negative content has taken root, only a targeted corporate reputation management strategy can dislodge it from page one.
Business Operations Disruption
Your business continuity plan may require you to pull people from several departments. Vital business functions like customer service and production could be at risk when teams are short-staffed.
Elevated work stress and a poor reputation may increase employee turnover and hiring costs. Furthermore, operations may be hindered when chief executives leave the company on short notice.
Positive content will be buried in search engine results due to constant negative media attention. As a result, customers won’t be able to find your website and social media properties easily. Your damaged reputation will also drive away potential customers.
Continue reading to learn how to manage a crisis, or ask us for help.
Critical Crisis Management Steps
Companies are often remembered for their handling of an emergency years after it has ended. Johnson & Johnson, for example, was considered a hero for how it handled a Tylenol recall during the 1980s. The company turned around a crisis situation, and media coverage is still positive nearly four decades later. There are three Stages of a crisis, each with clearly defined actions to minimize damage to your company’s reputation.
The most vital phase of your crisis management plan occurs before a problem exists. During the pre-crisis phase, business owners should identify and train stakeholders, assess vulnerabilities, draft and test a response plan.
Assemble a Professional Crisis Management Team
Your team should be lead by your CEO and staffed with senior executives, department leadership, legal council and your head of public relations.
Include individuals from all company disciplines and regions to properly assess your vulnerabilities. It’s easier to slim down your crisis management team later than add new members in the middle of the process.
Assess Your Weaknesses
The first step toward drafting a response plan is to find your weak points. Hold a brainstorm with your crisis team and list anything that could harm your company. By including employees across all departments, you’ll lower your risk of missing something critical.
Draft a Crisis Management Plan
Generic crisis response templates should be avoided, because every business has a different set of weak points. Rather than using someone else’s plan, work to create a customized solution based on the assessment you performed.
At a minimum, your crisis communication plan should address the following:
- Internal and external stakeholders
- Primary spokespeople for each communication channel
- Communication infrastructure and redundancies
- Decision-making chain of command
- Access to emergency funds
- Holding statements
- Contingency plans
Begin Crisis Communication Training
First of all, you’ll need to select the right spokesperson. This individual will be the face of your company during a crisis situation. Your spokesperson must be able to handle all types of communication.
While it’s important for CEOs to be visible during a crisis, not all executives excel in public relations roles. Your spokesperson must be comfortable with live or on-camera interviews and written statements. Most importantly, this individual must understand the difference between PR and crisis communication.
Your communication team should also draft a holding statement for the media. Decide on the framework and get approval from your legal team ahead of time. As a result, you’ll greatly improve your disaster response speed.
Start Brand Monitoring
Brand monitoring enables you to quickly catch negative content and address criticism before it goes viral. Google alerts is an essential tool for keeping up with online mentions, and it’s free to use! Don’t limit yourself to notifications for your company’s name. Cast a wider net by setting alerts for trademarks and CEOs as well.
Social monitoring also plays a critical role in protecting your reputation. While Google alerts is excellent for warning you of negative articles, your customers may post criticism on social networks that could go undetected. Many social media monitoring tools are free, but there are also plenty of white glove services available if you have room in your budget.
During the Crisis
When a crisis breaks, most of your team’s activities will fall into two broad areas: resolving problems that led to the situation, and communicating internally and externally about what actions you’re taking.
Assign one team to the task of identifying the root causes of the problem and fixing them. Problems can include everything from flawed processes to security breaches or even sabotage. Leadership must dig beneath the surface to address underlying policies and prevent similar issues in the future.
Your resolution team should include financial and legal executives to help determine an appropriate means of reparation for victims.
Your communication team should be diverse enough to gather and understand a wide variety of data. Some audiences will require in-depth information with technical details, while others will only need high-level executive summaries. By training multiple sets of individuals as potential spokespeople, you’ll be prepared to handle a wide variety of issues.
While many employees may have gone through training, it’s critical to elect one spokesperson to be the voice of your brand during a crisis. Having one point of contact will ensure consistent internal and external messaging.
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The final step of crisis control is developing an aggressive reputation management strategy to repair your online image.
You’ll need to work hard to improve the narrative around your brand. Your search results may be riddled with negative articles that don’t reflect your company or employees. It’s essential to expand and strengthen your digital footprint by investing in SEO-driven reputation management services.
Contact our team to learn how we can help you.