Unfortunately, sometimes things just happen. Whether it is an unhappy customer, an equipment malfunction or a data breach, events can unfold that undermine an organization’s trust. What an organization does following a crisis event can mean the difference between winning back confidence or turning customers away.
That’s why it’s important to have a crisis communications plan in place. Not only can a comprehensive plan help mitigate harm to an organization’s reputation, it can also set the groundwork for helping those affected. Keep reading for elements to consider in case of a crisis.
An important caveat: Talk is cheap. Match words with actions, as others will want to see how you’re addressing the problem and working to prevent a future occurrence.
Crisis communications mini-plan
A disaster has struck, so what should you do? Here is a crisis communications primer for getting back into the public’s good graces.
- Acknowledge the scenario: ‘Fess up when things go wrong. Denying an actual event can bring about even more negative attention and hurt credibility. If it’s a developing situation, share that you’re figuring out what is going on and will provide details once available.
- Apologize: Reach out to everyone affected. This might even mean apologizing to someone in-person. Just be sure to act quickly, be genuine and validate their feelings.
- Right the wrong: This might be as small as issuing refunds or as big as confronting society’s systemic problems head-on. Just try to make things better for people caught up in the crisis.
- Be proactive: Get ahead of the problem by anticipating needs. This might involve speaking up about an issue shortly after its discovery or establishing ways to be contacted for information and help.
- Find out what went wrong: Review internal processes and share what you found. If necessary, try working with authorities on any possible investigation.
- Preventing future problems: Detail findings and how they will influence any changes to policies and procedures.
- Identify a hero: Highlight an employee or someone else that went above and beyond. Show this person gratitude for their help and keeping calm in a tense situation.
These crisis communications plan elements should be a good start when things hit the fan. However, scale your response up or down depending on the situation. Just be sure to exercise transparency, be sincere and strive to help.