Preparing your company for a media crisis

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Issues in businesses can occur at any time, and every effort should be made to guarantee an issue doesn’t spiral into a crisis. It’s important to have a strategy in place just in case a crisis hits, as this will ensure your company maintains positive corporate reputation.

Identify potential crises

One of the first steps your company should take in order to prepare for potential crises, is to anticipate and establish protocols for handling them. To do this, research your company and others within the industry. What crises has it faced and what were the outcomes? Does the company have a history of violating rules & regulations? This information will be more than likely to come out in a crisis, therefore you need to be ready to deal with the impact that might have on your organisation.

Before a crisis, you should outline who will need to be notified, as well as the individuals who will speak publicly on the company’s behalf. In order to prepare your speakers, schedule media training sessions to ensure that anyone who may be in the public eye during a crisis is ready to have a successful media interview. Put this into practice by setting up a ‘fake’ crisis – this will help to discover flaws which could potentially be fatal to the company.

Creating a strategic plan allows you to ensure that the first external communication following a crisis is well thought out and will resonate with your consumers.

Take responsibility and be proactive

The first few hours post-crisis outbreak are the most important in terms of establishing credibility and rebuilding public trust. You should first apologise, and then act. Your consumers will want to see something substantial to demonstrate that you are changing your ways moving forward. Saying you are deeply saddened about the incident, and discussing what policies will be put in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, will go much further with your public than replying ‘no comment’. The sooner a company accepts responsibility, the stronger the credibility.

Plan social media into your crisis

Social media can make or break your company during a crisis. With the rise of the digital age, the first port of call for consumers is social media. Be prepared for social media backlash and plan a strategic approach ahead of a crisis. Do you have the tools and people in place to monitor your social media? Can you respond quickly to misinformation and accusations? If the answer is no, then you should consider reviewing this, as social media platforms are the best form of two-way communication between you and your consumers. Being an active listener by hearing and responding to consumer concerns, will help to restore your reputation.

Select the right spokesperson

The spokesperson during a crisis is crucial, as this is the person who will be the face of your company. It is important that this person appears believable and trustworthy to the public. The CEO of the company should be one of the spokespersons for your company, however they should not be the primary. CEO’s thrive in business situations, however they tend to fall short when communicating with the media and public. Lawyers will often be considered untrustworthy by your consumers, as they often recommend a robotic ‘no comment’ response to a crisis, which could be detrimental to your company.

Following these above steps should prepare you to handle any potential crises that are thrown your way.