Ways to Help You Prepare for a Crisis, Before it Happens.
For many of us, the thought of a crisis sends us into a panic. You’re in a place of uncertainty and there is a fear of losing control. Unfortunately, at one point, almost every organization will undoubtedly experience some sort of crisis. Knowing this, it’s important to ask yourself, is your company prepared?
There is no denying that crises are inevitable. As a global PR and issues management agency, The Walker Marchant Group (WMG), has had many years of working with clients to mitigate crises. It’s easy for us to spring into immediate action because that’s our job. However, if you’re not a PR professional, you may not be as comfortable with dealing with crises like we are, and that’s okay.
While crises are understandably unnerving, you don't have to fear them. Crises are simply a part of life. By preparing for a crisis and having a plan in place, you will be able to avoid a lot of the stress that comes with it as well help prevent future crises.
You may be thinking, preparing for a crisis is easier said than done or how can I prepare for a crisis if it’s unexpected? We’ll I’ve got good news, you can prepare for a crisis. It’s not a piece of cake, but often times it’s less work preparing for a crises than it is dealing with a crisis on your hands.
Check out our effective ways to plan for a crisis:
Assess potential weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and issue areas - The best way to prepare for a crisis is to have a premonition about where it may come from. A good way to do this is to brainstorm a few hypothetical crisis situations and get your team in a room to come up with an effective strategy for how you would approach it. I will expand on what said strategy should entail later, but the first step to being prepared is having an idea about what kind of crisis you might be susceptible to.
Have the right tools in place - Part of being prepared for a crisis is being able to see it coming. By doing extensive monitoring (both social and traditional media) on your brand, you will be able to be one step ahead of the crisis because you will already have an idea about what influencers and critics are saying. Aside from monitoring it will be helpful if you are able to disseminate information in a short period of time. More often than not, if nothing is said by an organization when a crisis emerges, the information that will circulate among the public and the media will be speculation and the crisis will only get worse. To avoid this, it is vital that you are able to open the necessary channels of communication at a moment’s notice. If you want to have control over a crisis, you need to have control over the flow of information.
Have a plan - If you are aware of your soft spots, and are able to gauge public sentiment towards your organization prior to the crisis coming to fruition, then coming up with a plan to handle the crisis will be much easier to do than if you were blind sighted. Naturally, no two crises are the same, however, there are some general tips to include in your crisis response plan no matter what the issue is.
Be sincere - People need to know that you genuinely care before you respond. They need to know that you are taking the crisis personally and that you and your organization care about the people impacted by the crisis.
Have the highest-ranking person be the face of your company - whether it is the CEO, a partner, or a senior-level executive, having a high ranking person in your organization be the face of the organization demonstrates that the crisis is being taken seriously and that handling it is a priority for the whole organization.
Be transparent to build and maintain credibility - If you can make it public, make it public! Information is better coming from you than from another source.
Keep employees and stakeholders informed - Provide updates regularly and make sure that there are no surprises for those involved. Employee mistrust and shareholder value loss are often one of many negative side effects of a crisis, yet can be easily avoided if they are kept in the loop.
Keep it moving - It is important that your plan not only responds to the crisis but also allows for you and your organization to maintain regular business operations. Your plan should include a way to keep business running as usual or get things back on track as soon as possible.
There is no need to panic when a crisis comes knocking at your door. Crises can be conquered. You just have to be prepared. If you follow these steps, the next time you are staring a crisis in the face, you can greet it as an old friend, and as an equal.