We all hope it will never happen, but the bigger your organisation is, the higher the risk is that you will one day find yourself having to eat a a steaming pile of negativity.
Despite our best intentions, it can happen. The worst part is that these instances often occur to forces outside of our control. Broader industry movement, the price of fish, one silly mistake that leads your organisation down a path of media inquiry that for any reasonably minded person, would seem totally pointless.
There are, of course, the legitimately colossal screw-ups and the giant oversights. This is when it gets tricky. These issues are often complex, multi-faceted and require a great deal of inside knowledge to articulate.
Regardless of the nature of the crisis, the worst thing you can possibly have is a sluggish response time. Fire spreads if it’s not extinguished, both out of control and well out of proportion. By having a solid crisis plan in place, you will save yourself a great deal of additional work in the long run.
So what do you need to do?
1. Don’t just brace yourself. Be pro-active.
You don’t need a crystal ball to be able to predict how your stakeholders are going to respond to a particular issue. In the event you have any kind of warning, begin strategising how you’re going to navigate through the coming storm. Beyond this, consider developing a framework for how an when this type of planning process needs to occur, and the outcomes required. In other words, don’t simply deal on a case by case basis. Have a planned crisis procedure that delivers quality appropriate content, fast.
2. “Help the organisation and its stakeholders come to a mutual understanding”
Yes, it may seem like fluffy PR nonsense, but these words should be your guiding light in any crisis. There’s nothing stakeholders detest more than being left in the dark. Making the crisis and the rational behind your response as easy to understand and transparent as possible should be your priority. The process of resolution, or simply the process of making the best choices in a bad scenario should not only be what occurs behind closed doors, but should actively be seen to be occurring When people see error, most will assume incompetence if not shown otherwise. You will never be able to please everyone, but there is one legitimate silver lining to any crisis, its that they’re an incredible opportunity to demonstrate value and character. Which takes me to my third and final point:
3. Content: Humanise, Humanise, Humanise!
Work to simplify the issue, if the way you’ve constructed it requires a great deal of insider knowledge to grasp, then you will lose your audience. Naturally you don’t want to simplify to the degree where the content becomes misleading, but with a little creative thinking you can certainly humanise it. Often organisations dispense with humanity in favour of being perceived as “professional”. However what we often forget is that professionalism is not about being robotic. Professionalism is about demonstrating your ability to deal with adversity when it strikes, and that in doing so, you put your stakeholders first and go the extra mile. To disregarding the issue or it’s impact, is to de-humanise the organisation. Not to mention to disregard a fantastic opportunity for character building. Instead, build your content so as to give your audience a reason to trust you