Be it the recent public relations nightmare for a renowned airline company or the infamous workplace harassment case that unfolded in one of the popular cab service companies, incidents such as these are sure to tarnish the brand value of a business, sometimes beyond repair. Worst! Customers of these prestigious businesses even threatened to boycott their app and services.
So what should be a company’s game-plan in times of such crises? Here are some dos and don’ts to help a business contain the impact and who knows; it might even turn a would-be loss into a tactical win:
1. Foreseeing risks/threats
Overlooking the importance of foreseeing risks is like suicide. Even a minor misunderstanding can result in a disastrous incident overnight. On the other hand, keeping mum paves way for rumors, allusions, et al. incurring a bad name to your brand eventually turning a petite issue into a monstrous blunder.
2. Build a crisis management squad
Yes, crisis response experts have been long accentuating on the importance of having a crisis management squad handy. Ensure that your business has the following people on-board:
- A public relations or PR expert with crisis management expertise. Also, this person ought to be accessible around the clock.
- An advocate with expertise in dealing with PR issues. This is because a simple apology from the company thought might avert a possible lawsuit, but it certainly won’t protect the company from being arbitrated in the opinion of the masses.
- A pre-selected group of trustworthy patrons. Getting such customers involved right from the start might act as a complement to them and can persuade them to come to your rescue in times of crisis.
Though your customers may not be right always, they ought to be treated with due respect. Train your employees to treat every customer however violent or rude in a gracious and calm manner.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of social media
Today, more than 50% of businesses have embraced social media platforms to reach and engage with their customers. Unfortunately, this effort remains one-sided in most of the meaning of the case, only the companies reach out to customers and not vice-versa. Remember, engagement is the key here!
In times of crises, which inevitably do occur, a business can certainly expect awful comments, blog posts, videos, and what not, eventually fetching the attention of mainstream media? Respond to your customers, critics, and the netizens within hours of the incident to make them know that you are all ears to them.
Keeping mum or ignoring the concerns/backlash of people on social media about the incident can prove to be severely detrimental for a business and in the worst case, unforgiving.
4. Remember, mainstream media matters!
Hate it or love it, we live in an era where controversies sell like hotcakes. Also, remember that reporters of mainstream media (radio, television, newspapers, etc.) actively listen and follow social media channels to see what’s trending and what’s not. And, if a social media post on some business or brand receives a good amount of traction, the mainstream media is sure to broadcast the same to their audiences.
Here, the key is to be proactive and transparent so that people don’t carve negative conclusions of their own. Address the crisis head-on and offer a means for the audience to reach you with concerns and questions. Hiding like a thief in the night will only make things worse!
1. Never keep your staff in the dark
Often, employees are the last people to know about a crisis situation. History has it that reporters have taken undue advantage of this void space to harvest information that a PR team and executive staff won’t disclose otherwise. They ask questions pertaining to crisis problems to your employees and whatever your staff person says (often in the heat of the moment) becomes the red-hot statement of your company.
Thus, it is advisable to keep all your stakeholders and employees informed right from the start.
The cleverest thing a business can do is to be prepared and take cues from the recent crisis management turmoil that businesses out there are facing. Timely response to a crisis issue can help your business from possible customer rejection, resistance and resentment. Long story short, the more a business accentuates on crisis management planning, the better it is.