A crisis can happen to any business. It can be a dramatic event, such as a natural disaster, an employee scandal or even just a rumor that captures media attention. Your best defense against a crisis is preparation:
Alex Honeysett In the first of our crisis communication seriesI outlined the best ways you can prepare your company for a crisis. By now, you should know who to call, where to go, and what to do if you find out about a security leak, you discover a defect with your product, or your co-founder has suddenly gone AWOL.
Knowing what to say—and how to say it—is every bit as important as the steps you take to quell your crisis. A simple, generic statement will help reassure your various stakeholders that you are aware of, and addressing, the issue—while buying you time to prepare a full briefing on the situation.
Imagine you ship out several orders of your blood, sweat, and tears-inspired holiday gift baskets, only to learn they arrived at the doorsteps of your new and returning customers with the crumbled remains of hand soap and broken jars of jam.
Although you probably feel like you need an explanation from your vendors or delivery company—your customers will be expecting one sooner than that.
The first message you draft should be something along the lines of this: We understand that a few shipments of our holiday gift baskets were found to be damaged upon delivery.
We are looking into the cause of this issue and will keep you informed of our progress. This should address what happened, when it happened, and include an update on the status of the issue.
On Tuesday, December 15, we learned that several shipments of our holiday gift baskets were found to be damaged upon delivery.
In quickly investigating the issue, we were able to pinpoint the cause of the problem—an exceptionally turbulent flight—and are working with our transportation providers to ensure that all of our customer orders are fulfilled before the holiday and that this issue will not happen again.
Finally, draft a note to your customers. Keep in mind that anything you say externally—regardless of your intended audience—has the potential to end up in the hands of a journalist, especially if your issue is particularly juicy.
Dear Customer, Yesterday, we learned that several shipments of our holiday gift baskets contain damaged goods due to an exceptionally turbulent flight they experienced on their way to you. We are working around-the-clock with our transportation providers and internal teams to ensure your orders are fulfilled prior to the holidays.
At XYZ, we are always looking for ways to better service our customers. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me at molly xyzcompany. Companies who slack on great service do so at their peril— just ask Ocean Marketing about the power of just one neglected customer.
Pick up the phone or start sending out emails to as many clients as possible. As painful as some of these conversations can be, deferring your calls to voicemail until the dust settles is not advised. When you do speak with clients, be sure to reiterate the same information you have previously released—you want to be consistent with your messaging.
Be prepared for some angry calls and frustrated customers. For a bit of inspiration, check out the Customer Service Hall of Fame. Number one on the list? As with your customers, treat the media with professionalism and care. They may not purchase your product, but they can write about it, so their experience with you can significantly impact the tone of the story they choose to tell.
Always be as transparent and honest as possible. Companies are often defined by their communication styles —and especially by their communication in crisis situations. And that will let you focus on getting back to business. Photo courtesy of ItzaFineDay. In addition to her extensive PR and marketing experience, Alex is a trained business coach.Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand caninariojana.com is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with .
Crisis Communications Planning s the Crisis Team begins to address the situation, keep these points in mind: Gather the facts Find out exactly what happened.
Designate a member of the team to gather the facts, and compile a list of “what we know” and “what we don’t know.” Follow. When a few bad actors tarnish an entire industry, the industry needs to organize, hire a crisis PR firm and start fighting back.
Here's an example of a crisis press release issued by an industry association. Crisis communication is an initiative which aims at protecting the reputation of the organization and maintaining its public image. Various factors such as criminal attacks, government investigations, media enquiry can tarnish the image of an organization.
Crisis Communications What to Say and How to Say It In the first of our crisis communication series, I outlined the best ways you can prepare your company for a crisis. By now, you should know who to call, where to go, and what to do if you find out about a security leak, you discover a defect with your product, or your co-founder has.
Develop a communications strategy for your resume just as you would for any other communications piece. You would never recommend writing a press release, or creating copy for a website until you knew the target audience and the same applies to your resume.