At VOXUS, we pride ourselves in keeping clients out of the news when it would damage a company’s reputation. Sometimes, there is news that is beyond our control. Maybe it’s a legal proceeding or a software product vulnerability…the point is, crises will happen. It’s just a matter of how nimble and quick you are to address them.
Here’s a high-level checklist that your organization should keep in its back pocket for the next time a crisis hits:
- Identify ALL people involved internally — Is your CEO accused of a DUI? Don’t just take what you’re reading in the press to formulate a statement. Go directly to your CEO and say point blank, “Are the allegations true? Tell me specifically what happened.”
- Gets the full facts — This seems simple enough, but accusations can be more complicated than you think. You should get the full scoop about a potential crisis BEFORE the press picks up on it. While there are many different stories about a problem floating around a company, it’s important to specifically identify what the issue is and get the whole story, not just the Cliff Notes. This discovery phase can take hours, if not days and even weeks. It’s important that the communications team is privy to all information.
- Determine how widespread the story is — Has the story gotten into the mainstream press? Are customers asking you about what happened? Is the sales team getting questions from potential customers? There is no magic wand that can be waved for all situations. Sometimes if the story isn’t widespread, silence is golden; acknowledging an issue publicly (especially if it is untrue) may just fan the flames.
- Come up with an objective(s) — Do you want to clear your organization’s name by setting the record straight or do you want to ensure credibility by acknowledging wrongdoing?
- Identify communications mediums — Do you offer an exclusive interview with one media outlet, issue a blog post, reach out to all media representatives that have reported the story, or do you personally contact customers by email or phone?
While crises won’t 100 percent disappear, coming up with a game plan, and fast, can help limit the damage. Despite many current blog posts that say to shout your side of the story from the rooftops, that isn’t always a foolproof approach. In some cases, that only makes a story worse. So before you have a visceral reaction and start tweeting, blogging or videotaping your side of the story… take a deep breath.
Different situations require different approaches. Taking a step back and analyzing your options from a strategic standpoint is key.