The 10 Guidelines For Crisis Communication in a Digital Age
By Small Screen Producer. Publish on February 27, 2014.
Every business or organization is vulnerable to crises. For any company trying to build a brand, they inevitably happen! And because crises come often unexpectedly, a PR pro will tell you that it’s always a good thing to be prepared to jump into crisis communication mode if and when the time comes.
What is Crisis Communication?
Crisis communication is the act of mitigating damage to your company’s reputation from third party sources. It’s the steps an organization would take to deal with negative media. Think of a crisis communication plan as the part of your overall public relations strategy that defends and protects your organization from a public challenge to its reputation.
Most notably, given the many digital communication outlets available today, including social media, it’s been a real challenge for brands to keep up and prepare for inadvertent crises. So we come up with 10 things to keep in mind if your organization finds itself putting out a crisis situation, customer service flop, or reputation management debacle.
1. Begin From Within
Internal communication with your staff and your team is the best approach to handle a crisis. Without this, even if there is a plan, it will be much more challenging to follow through without proper communication between your team first.
2. Adaptability & Flexibility
In addition to communicating with your team, your team and crisis communication strategy needs to be flexible enough to handle all types of situations. Even if you did your best to prepare, no two situations are the same you’ll have to be “on your toes” and quick to move. With the changing tides of the digital landscape, staying stagnant won’t do you any good!
3. Humans vs. Humans
At the end of the day, we’re all just human. Forget about the fancy legal and corporate talk. The worst thing you can do is respond with “no comment” or “it’s just company policy” Your audience and your customers expect to hear from the humans behind the brand.
4. Real-Time is Big-Time
Responding in real-time isn’t an option anymore. Today’s customers are impatient and they expect an urgent response. Companies that are quick to "stop the bleeding" will find that issues are quickly dissipated and the healing process beings much more quickly.
5. Thoughtful Responses
Reacting without the facts or in a defensive way can be lethal and might make the situation even worse. While it’s always good to be responsive, make sure you team has the facts prepared. This may take developing some holding statements in advance to use immediately after a crisis breaks.
“We will be supplying additional information when it’s available and post it on our website.”
“Our hearts are deeply saddened by what’s happened. We will do our best to help in every way and find out the latest information.”
6. Sincerity Wins
Honesty and sincerity go a long a way with today’s online audience. When an organization can apologize and respond in a truthful way, they have the opportunity to surprisingly build a loyal audience. Actions, of course, speak louder than words, so companies should say it AND show it to prove it!
7. Listening Ears
Listening is the most important thing one can do when communicating to someone. It’s always good for companies to have a listening ear to find out what others are saying and publishing and (where they are saying those things) in order to address incidents when they happen and keep a fire from forming. This may require a notification or monitoring system to keep track of everything that’s happening on social media and elsewhere on the web.
8. Tweet Tweet
Twitter is the most fast-paced, news-dominating social media platform out there for companies to publicly respond immediately to crisis situations. Additionally, we recommend publishing responses on Facebook to reach your loyal fans and customers.
9. Respond with Facts
State the facts and address big concerns and questions immediately. Or someone (who might not have the facts straight) will be compelled to respond instead. Additionally, it’s easiest to put out a fire when there’s just one representative for the company or organization answer questions and stating the facts to avoid any confusion.
10. Assess the Situation
What worked and what didn’t for your team? What could your organization have done differently to be more prepared to handle a situation of this caliber? Again, there isn’t a company out there that’s completely protected from issues that may arise and being prepared is the best way to avoid suffering from unnecessary damage. Being prepared helps expedite the whole process. And stakeholders, customers, and the public will appreciate your proactiveness.
About Small Screen Producer
Small Screen Producer is a full service, marketing firm located in Houston, Texas that specializes in online digital media marketing through a 4-step process. Step 1: WE PLAN a custom web presence strategy for your business through website design and development, mobile development, social media account creation and branding. STEP 2: We then POSITION your brand through Pay-Per-Click advertising and search engine optimize tactics that include on-page and off-page SEO that are Google and Bing approved. STEP 3: We then PROMOTE your brand using an Inbound marketing strategy or a content marketing strategy to help you accomplish your marketing goals. We do this through blogging, video production, infographics, call-to-actions, landing pages, and free educational offers. We help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. STEP 4: We then PROTECT your brand's web presence with a reputation management program that monitors social media and on line reviews. Get started today with a free online marketing assessment of your company's web presence. Your company deserves it.
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