A crisis has hit your organization, and you will want to know how exactly you should respond. How can you communicate with the world, stakeholders, and customers? This is what crisis communication is all about. This article will cover all the fundamentals you need to know about crisis communication. You will get to know exactly what it is, how to respond and go through the communication process to effectively report to the world during a crisis for your organization.
What Is a Crisis?
A crisis is something that happens of such importance that it can ruin your organization’s reputation. Something that can cause damage to you, not just for one day but something that could stain your reputation. So that you might lose customers, investors might shy away, and the public and regulators might turn against you. We call this a crisis, and we should be prepared for it. It can happen in any organization—for example, a big oil company or where there is one person consultancy. Everyone needs to be prepared for a crisis. Media training courses are also greatly beneficial for reporting effectively and appropriately during a crisis.
Why Is It Vital to Respond Abruptly In Crisis?
Here we will discuss an actual crisis and why it is so important to respond appropriately. For example, BP, a huge international oil company, did not respond very well to its crisis when it leaked in the gulf. Due to their CEO’s poor communication and consistent bad press conferences, their market capitalization lost 30 billion dollars. Volkswagen had a major crisis with its reputation when it was revealed that it was breaking the emission standards. This is why it is crucial to have a plan in case a crisis happens. Nobody is perfect; no organization is perfect. You can expect any event at any time. But you can control how you respond to a crisis. This is the central concept of crisis communication.
Timing In Communication Turns the Game
Timing plays a crucial role in deciding the fate of your organization. Many decades ago, when Tylenol had its scandal, it received much praise for how it reacted to the contamination of its Tylenol product. It took 24 hours to respond to the news media at that time because everything took a slower pace. But now, with the advancement in technology, it takes place instantaneously. If a crisis affects your organization, people are talking about it on Twitter, Facebook and every other social media platform. So, you must respond instantly, and if not instantly, within hours. So, crisis communication is not having the perfect answer that everyone has thought about, studied and reflected on in three weeks; rather, it is having the best answer you can come up with now because the reporters and the public want to know what is happening. You have to have impulsiveness or all your detractors and enemies will define you and damage your reputation. A crisis in your organization creates a vacuum for everyone to go in and put statements about you. You better be the leading voice of your organization and tell the world what happened and what is happening.
So, when a crisis happens, it is critical that you very quickly establish the facts as you know them. The next thing to ask yourself is, What am I doing to make the situation better? If there are any casualties or people injured, express sympathy for those people, condolences and tell them what you can do for them and their families.
Do Hide At The Time Of Crisis
Too often, during a crisis, people hunker down and don’t say anything or hide from the media, which is the worst possible response. When you hide, you make yourself look guilty because it is a fact that guilty people hide, and innocent people are transparent. They are ready to answer questions.
When any crisis hits your organization, figure out the three things that people would want to know: what happened, what you are doing to improve the situation, and whether you are investigating, shutting down the plan, evacuating the area, etc. Always talk positively and proactively about what you are doing. There are many times when you don’t know what is happening. You can let people know you have called the local fire department, state regulators, and federal officials overseeing your department, but people must see you. They must see you are accountable, answering questions, and not hiding. Your appearance is often more important than getting a perfect message or statement.
Come Up With Clear And Short Messages
When you come to the messages, you must have something short, simple and the best you can do right now. For example, there is an explosion at a Factory at 9 am, and now it’s 9.45. am. In this case, you don’t have to know every fact or speculate on the causes and you don’t have to explain how the issue affects your business. Instead, stick to what is happening at the moment and what you are doing. The main focus in the first 45 minutes could be evacuating and helping people out of place. Contacting all the authorities for the rescue operations, etc. If you are talking to the media two weeks later, you will have a completely different message. What is needed, though, is you, someone from the organization or your CEO on the ground being accessible, answering reporters, questions and letting the public know exactly what is going on. It’s the secrecy that gets you in trouble. People will assume the worst, so it is critical that you quickly come up with a message.
A crisis is an extraordinarily unfavorable situation being a risk to the reputation of your business or company. It is crucial to respond abruptly in the appropriate manner at this time. Do not hide in a crisis, as it will make the public think the worse about you, and your enemies will get a chance to defame you. Come up with short and explicit messages that people want to hear. Your message will differ with time; i.e., immediately after the crisis, after a week and then after two weeks. But be there and answer the media reporters’ questions to represent your company with the best image.