07 Jun Crisis
Dear Christian Radio,
There’s a reporter on hold. They’re asking some tough questions. A crisis is now on your doorstep. Are you prepared?
Most every business will, at some point, have to deal with some sort of a public relations crisis and the response can make or break your company. These days, when news goes viral almost instantly, businesses need to be ready to respond to any crisis quickly and efficiently.
Most businesses have a solid crisis communications plan in place so that they are prepared to respond immediately. Following are the key components to consider, as well as the do’s and dont’s of crisis management:
- Crisis Team – Everyone who is on your crisis team should know the role they play in the crisis management plan. There should be a team leader who coordinates all actions that will be carried out during the crisis, as well as a human resources manager, security director, media director, finance director and lawyer. Don’t allow anyone from outside this group to be involved in your crisis management plan, as that can cause major communications issues.
- Communication Channels/Spokesperson – You should have only one spokesperson who handles all media interviews. That person will become the face of your business during the crisis and he/she will always share the same message. Your spokesperson will ensure a press release is written with pertinent information and that all communication, including social media, reflects the same talking points. Never allow anyone other than the selected spokesperson to issue any statements, as it can result in conflicting information. It’s also crucial that when speaking to the media, you don’t come across as robotic and unfeeling. If the situation calls for it, relay that you’re deeply saddened by what has transpired and that every effort is being made to correct the situation so that it never happens again.
- Honesty – Once you have a plan of action, it’s important that you acknowledge the crisis and address it. The worst thing you can do is run and hide. Issuing a terse “No comment” response is a no-no; it can only incite fear and/or cause the media to look elsewhere for a response. If that happens, you have lost all control of the situation. It is also important to be as forthright as possible and if the situation deems it necessary, apologize. Saying you’re sorry can go a long way.
- Response – When a crisis occurs, you must respond as quickly as possible. Once the crisis team has developed the strategy, get your message out immediately. If business operations are disrupted, customers need to know how it will affect them, worried employees need to be informed, and people working or living around your facility must be told – particularly if there is any threat to them. Never delay your response as it can cause a myriad of issues that you most definitely won’t have time to address.
- Resolution – Once the situation has been resolved, it’s crucial to ascertain what your team learned from the crisis. You must have a formal analysis of what was done correctly, where the ball was dropped and how you can be better prepared the next time. Don’t ever think “That will never happen to us” because it certainly can happen to you.
- Practice – You have your communications crisis plan in place, now what do you do? Don’t wait to put it into action until you have a crisis – plan drills at least a couple of times a year. Scheduling some run-throughs will highlight the strengths of the plan, as well as any weaknesses that need to be addressed. Practice does indeed make perfect, which is what you need in a crisis.
A strong crisis communication plan is vital for your business or organization. Crisis communications is, unfortunately, all too often ignored by businesses – until a disaster occurs that can create havoc. If you don’t have a crisis communications plan, make it a top priority.
Dear Christian Radio…
1) Build your team – Make sure everyone knows what role they play.
2) Ready your response – Develop your strategy, get your message out quickly, and control the narrative.
3) Practice for perfection – Preparation will ultimately determine your readiness when a crisis takes place.
In Christ –
ROB BUNCH – GUEST BLOGGER
As Managing Director at The High Road Agency, Rob Bunch leads through dedication to his team, clients and projects. He knows how to develop a creative concept from vision into final delivery, and is intensely devoted to standards of excellence in all aspects of his personal and professional endeavors. Featured in the 2015 Tri-Cities Business Journal 40 Under 40, Rob certainly has a lot to be proud of (except his photo from that night). He will never pass up an opportunity to help someone in need, but will also take every chance he gets to make a joke. In his free time, Rob adores his crafty wife of 17 years, April, and their two children, Ethan (8) and “Tornado” Truman (6). Rob’s commitment to faith and family is reflected in the time he spends both inside and outside the office.
The High Road Agency is a full service-marketing firm based in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Our mission is to be leaders and trend setters in the industry and to provide the best creative and innovative solutions to our clients by reinventing and challenging the way people think all while defining the future of marketing and advertising.