Given the current environment, dealing with crisis is no more the job of a specialized crisis communications expert alone, it is now an important part of each and every communications practitioner. Worst is you can never be prepared 100% to face the crisis, it happens when you least expect it. Not pretending to be a crisis expert but have tried to put together some time-proven techniques that can be always handy.
Audit, plug-gaps and activate drills – audit and identify crisis prone areas, fill-gaps as far as possible, create various scenarios and just like a fire drill, practice, keep the engine well-oiled to keep the systems and leaders ready for any kind of situation. You cannot test your preparedness at the time of actual crisis. Anticipate every conceivable crisis situation such as product recall, data leakage, layoffs (current times), multiple employees getting infected, leadership crisis etc. Create response plan for each of the scenario and have it tested as you would do in real time.
KYC (know your customers) in real sense: When crisis strikes it is important that each stakeholder community is informed by the company on the exact situation promptly by the company themselves, rather than them knowing incorrect or malicious information from other sources. Every team member should be responsible to inform a specific set of stakeholder community so that we ensure that they are informed first hand in the most efficient manner.
Acknowledge early and promise to act: In the world of hyper-active social media, nothing can be worse than being caught unaware and then pretend that nothing is wrong. Crisis response is now a 24/7 reality, hence listening to what is spoken about your brand or company is more important than ever. When the crisis hits, it is critical to gather facts and establish who did what, the organization should be however quick in acknowledging what happened and the actions it plans to take to correct the situation. Today’s Maggi and Snapdeal crisis will be a textbook example for PR pros of future.
Make the boss do all the talking: During crucial crisis situation, it is very critical that the senior management team is not only visible but carefully communicating with compassion and care with their key stakeholders, starting from your own employees.
Post-crisis analysis: The best way to be better at crisis management is to learn from the previous one. Go in-depth in studying how each constituent behaved in the crisis situation, how your management team reacted and what could have been improved. How you can mend and improvise on what was affected? Sometimes organizations have become better and iconic post-crisis. So stop assuming it cannot happen to you, instead learn from their actions. Prepare yourself and your organization. Remember the famous quote of Winston Churchill – “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”