At some point in time, many businesses face a public relations crisis and it can be a pivotal moment for a company. How you handle crisis communication could impact the future of your company and your reputation.
To be ready when the unexpected becomes a reality, crisis preparedness and an effective communication response plan are crucial. While it might seem overwhelming to manage a crisis in the moment, here are five steps for how to communicate during a PR crisis.
1. Anticipate the Crisis
Be proactive. Think through possible situations that could arise and discuss them with your team. By taking the time to work through scenarios and really thinking about your response, this will give your team and business a solid approach to putting out a fire.
2. Develop a Crisis Communication Plan
Developing a crisis communication plan is essential to know how your company will handle a future crisis. This plan should include: who is responsible for what in your team, who will be the spokesperson and main contact for the media, who are your key stakeholders who need to be informed of the situation and how will your team affirm the business’ values or adjust depending on the crisis. By creating a detailed crisis communication plan and outlining each team member’s role, your company will be ready to act when the time comes.
3. Take Responsibility
When the crisis hits, take responsibility. This is key. Instead of worsening the damage by trying to cover up the PR crisis you’re dealing with, be proactive and craft a holding statement to better position yourself and your company. Your holding statement should consider public concerns and the emotional impact of the crisis. When crafting your statement, be sure it is understandable and avoids industry jargon. This is your first shot at taking responsibility for the crisis, so let the public know you understand where they are coming from, you are doing all you can to stop contributing to the crisis and you’re dedicated to finding the resolution.
4. Share New Developments
Once your holding statement has been crafted, share this on all proper social channels and have your designated spokesperson present it to the public. Make sure your spokesperson understands they will be the main point of contact throughout the development of the crisis and should remain available.
It is also crucial to communicate the entire crisis development with your employees and key stakeholders. This ensures they know what is going on, how it may be impacting them, what your company is actively doing to resolve it and how they can support the company and its management throughout the crisis.
5. Monitor, Plan, and Communicate
After releasing your holding statement to the public, make sure your social media team is on high alert. Stay aware of what people are saying about your company online throughout the crisis management period and be sure to address noteworthy concerns in your next statement. Your team should be working on ways to assure the public you are taking the crisis seriously and are working to improve the company’s standards. This could be anything from changing company policies to implementing a philanthropic element into your business plan. By remaining transparent and following up with the public on your thoughtful actions, the chances of redeeming your reputation increase.
All in all, be thorough in your efforts and follow this five-step crisis communication plan before and when the crisis hits.
If you feel you’re in need of crisis communication expertise, feel free to reach out Hubbell Communications to utilize our knowledge and seasoned professionals. In any crisis, it’s important to act quickly, take control of the narrative and begin repairing the damage.