May 23, 2015
/ by Katie Gaab
Crises are inevitable, especially in today’s world where messages fly at the speed of social. Consequently, public relations professionals should always be prepared for a storm before it appears in the forecast. Here are five steps to consider when creating your crisis communication plan.
How you react and take responsibility for the situation will make or break your brand’s reputation. First, determine what happened. Was this a matter of poor judgement, a leak of internal information or a technical error? Next, consult with your company’s attorney to prepare for any legal implications.
When a crisis occurs, many companies scramble to respond quickly. By putting together a crisis communication team in advance, you’ll already know who will address which concern. In addition to including C-level executives, you should also prepare your customer relations-based teams to respond to media requests and customer complaints with appropriate verbiage.
By having a general statement template ready to go, you’ll save time while trying to play catch up. If you’re still researching why the crisis occurred, include the other four Ws: who, what, where and when. Keep it short and simple. Include facts and avoid speculation. Treat both customers and employees like insiders to reassert your brand’s loyalty.
Every social media channel requires a different approach, so tweak your general statement accordingly. Schedule posts so that each audience is aware of your efforts to address the crisis. Before you post, double check that you’ve covered all your channels. It’s better to be safe than sorry–you don’t want to amplify the crisis by forgetting to update your email subscribers.
Once you get the word out, continue to monitor public responses. Social media conversations may either fizzle or amplify the issue. Track the tone and frequency of reactions, decide if you need to clarify any details, and step back from the situation. What did you learn? What worked…and what could use more work? If mistakes are the ultimate teachers, crisis communication is the best indicator of what needs to be strengthened in your PR strategy.
Want more crisis communication tips? Click here to register for Peter LaMotte’s “Crush Crises Before They Spread” webinar!
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