You know the feeling of impending doom when something happens and it seems like your whole company has just been smacked with a giant tsunami? It feels like a crisis with no hope of coming out the other end without your corporation’s reputation being marginalized. The company could face losing money, time and a solid standing in the marketplace. To top it off, this horrendous situation has the potential for the blame to fall on you and how you didn’t properly prepare with a strong crisis management plan. While creating a solid and effective crisis management plan involves analysis and strategic planning, there are three things you should avoid when starting this vital preparation.
Myth #1: Take the path of least resistance and lay low until the smoke settles.
This is not the time to be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand and hope that it all goes away or that some other crisis with another company takes the media heat off your situation. Whether it is a plant explosion, a chemical spill, a product recall/defect, a security breach, sexual harassment… big or small, you need to face the situation head on and be prepared to face the media when they call.
Better yet, you should be the one with a prepared statement to give to the media on the 4 Ws + 2Hs.
“The company’s database was compromised and 50% of our customers’ information was taken.”
When in happened?
“This happened at 8:00 am just as the tech team was logging in.”
Where it happened?
“To the company’s main server at headquarters.”
Why it happened?
“We are still investigating why the firewall and our security designations did not stop the infiltration.”
Who was involved?
“We stopped the virus before the entire download took place.”
How are you and your team going to resolve it or fix it?
“We are investigating why it happened in the first place and will add more security measures going forward.”
Even if you don’t have all of the facts associated with the crisis, calmly relate all that you do know. It is important that your crisis management plan include a process to let the media and your key stakeholders know that you will update them with news or that there are no new developments every two hours. You can tweet your updates and also post them on your website. The transparency of your communications and the truth will speak volumes to repairing your credibility and reputation no matter what the crisis was.
Myth #2: Keep all the information on a “need to know” basis and tell all your employee not to say a word.
In a time of crisis, open and honest communications with your employees should be at the top of your list.
- Giving employees the most up-to-date information will calm their fears for them to continue to come to work the next day or provide you the opportunity to lay out “Plan B” if that is not possible
- You want to provide information to your employees on what type of information they should be communicating if they are talking to their families, neighbors and friends and refrain from talking to the media if appropriate
- Preparing employees about messaging with vendors and customers can help ease any anxiety they may have
- The company and the employees need emphasize that the crisis is being handled and solutions are underway
Myth #3: Shut down all social media and emphasize this in your crisis management plan
When a crisis strikes, make sure that your social media team is in high ready to respond clearly to the facts as you are ready to release them. Posting what has occurred and the key message points you want publicized and will be reassuring to your external audiences. The key message point is to have the company’s audiences understand that the company and the company’s leadership are taking the crisis very seriously to get answers and solve what has occurred. Your social media team should be monitoring all social media outlets and respond to negative and positive posts. If for any reason the negative comments start flooding in with erroneous information, you should refer all comments to a more indepth response that can be linked and posted on your website. This response will give all the relevant information of what has occurred, what is taking place and how updates will be shared.
The best advice for handling a crisis is to be prepared with a plan, message points and a team approach. NMV Strategies has prepared hundreds of individuals on how to take control of a crisis and survive with their personal and corporate brand intact. Contact NMV Strategies to take the first step in being prepared at [email protected] .