From time to time we watch a company’s PR crisis unfold in the national media. We point and stare and judge and pray we never have a crisis of our own. The truth is that most companies will.
Based on some of the crises we’ve dealt with here at i.d.e.a. and those seen in the media, here are a few of the most common mistakes in crisis communications.
The initial reaction
No, not how it’s executed, but the fact that it even happens! Not every crisis deserves a reaction. In fact, in many cases, you may not even be dealing with a real crisis from an outsider’s perspective. Ask yourself, is your response warranted or will your response bring the issue to light to those that never knew about it in the first place? On the flip side, not responding can also be a mistake! Weigh this decision carefully.
Someone gets on the defensive
The defensive does no good. It’s immature, desperate and leads to inaccuracies. Only speak the truth. Only give the facts and double, triple and quadruple check your facts. Do not stretch the truth, lie or get irrationally defensive.
A PR crisis can get emotional. While being careful not to be defensive, don’t lean so heavily on facts that you lose all feelings. Be sure to acknowledge this and be human.
Dwelling on the issue
Respond immediately, and know when the crisis has passed. News moves quickly and social media moves even quicker. It will end. In fact, when it does, you may actually see growth in your business! Don’t let the crisis stifle you with fear. Act quickly, then allow yourself to consider whether or not it has died down so that you can move on with your business.
The media stop knocking so the team stops fixing
Usually something has become a media problem after being a problem somewhere else in the company. Simply taking the right steps to redeem the company’s reputation publicly does not mean the problem is fixed. If it is a customer service problem, training problem, technology, whatever, be sure your message is understood by all and that the problem is addressed or the one-off incident may become a cycle.
There was no plan!
Have a plan in place. It can be time consuming, uncomfortable and even expensive, but this is one initiative that when needed, you won’t have time to create. Put in the time in advance. There are very few organizations that never have an issue.
It’s important to consider any and all crises that may affect your company. Take them seriously and learn from others’ experience and expertise before it happens to you.