Key Elements of Crisis Management
A crisis can be defined as an unpredictable event where the affected organization would be negatively affected. The reputation of the organization might be damaged, which can seriously affect finances. When considering how to successfully respond to and manage a crisis event, the organization and its stakeholder need to immediately develop a communication strategy and deliver information to the public in dealing with the situation.
Ideally, the aim is to prevent issues from developing into crises or worst-case scenarios for the organization and minimize negative consequences that can arise such as reputation damage. There are a number of factors that influence how a firm responds to a crisis and the tactics they choose to use to communicate with stakeholders throughout the various stages. The way a company responds in a crisis and how it communicates the next steps play a critical role in its recovery efforts. See how Piccolo PR can help you manage a crisis here.
Factors to consider while managing a crisis are:
- Instructing information – Relaying information that provides stakeholders (employees, consumers, vested parties) with instructions for how to physically deal with the crisis, as well as information regarding how to protect the organization from the crisis, should be the first step undertaken. Aside from the ‘No comment’ strategy, the Public Relations officers must promptly respond to all communicative channels based on the approved statements. The organization may hire an expert to prevent the issue to reoccur and/or select one reporter for a deeper dive story to follow.
- Adjusting information – The organization should disseminate adjusting information aimed at helping stakeholders to cope psychologically with the crisis. The Institute for PR emphasizes that public safety should be a top priority, mentioning the importance of expressing concern/sympathy to the victims, furthermore building up the organization’s image of being there for the people affected by the unfavorable situation. Providing psychological counseling to families and employees as well would also be a good measure.
- Check facts – Do internal fact-finding as soon as possible and investigate to get to know about the source and details of the crisis. Meet with in-house expertise to talk about the situation, plan, and draft an initial statement. Having relevant professional knowledge will better avoid the damage that affects the company in the future. Being thorough with facts helps in dealing with the crisis in a better way, it is important to make sure there are no loopholes remaining which could cause trouble later.
- Keep employees in the loop – Inform your employees about the situation and keep them updated. Don’t let your employees get bad news from external sources first – be transparent. That is essential as employees are the most important stakeholders, without whom the functioning of the organization wouldn’t be possible. Transparent communication and frequent updates within the internal staff are crucial as it is the staff who reflects the organization’s public reputation. Sharing and updating information with employees during a crisis is the key to maintaining a company’s reputation.
- Reputation repair – The next step is to craft responses intended to manage reputation among stakeholders to gain back trust from all the concerned and affected members. The best way to save your reputation is to respond quickly to the public. Be firm, confident, and approach the situation calmly. You need to rebrand your organization and work hard to get back the trust of the stakeholders, depending on the type of crisis faced.
- Appointing a spokesperson – A rightful and trustworthy person or team needs to be appointed as the spokesperson that can be deemed responsible for carrying out all communications tasks by being the link between the organization, media, and the public. Institute for PR states that the spokesperson should be highly skilled in public speaking. The spokesperson also requires to be consistently informed with the most up-to-date information to efficiently and accurately convey the organization’s key message. Responding promptly to the public can build further reputation instead of being nonchalant.
- Appointing a crisis team – Building a response team to work through and draft a solution is imperative. Say something publicly – release a brief statement, such as “We are aware of the situation and are looking into it”. Rapid response with reporters – respond to incoming queries in order to prevent a journalist from going with an early story which may have incorrect, negative information.
- Using social media as a tool – Using social media as a tool is effective for crisis management. The most common and effective responses used in crisis are justification and full apology. It not only develops the relationship between the organization and the public but also enhances the image and reputation of the organization. Organizations should use the appropriate semantics of the respective social media platforms. When employing social media for crisis management, organizations should first correctly identify and assess the type of crisis and their level of responsibility, and they should develop and apply the most appropriate response strategies for that particular crisis.