We have a crisis – I need help

As a business you can have all the best procedures in place, but unfortunately no business is immune to a crisis. 

A crisis can take on different forms. From financial woes to corruption, workplace culture, environmental disasters, cyberattack or product failure, the list is frankly endless. All it takes is an employee sending an inappropriate tweet or opening the wrong email and mayhem can unfold. A crisis can happen at any time. 

Crises are complex and there’s a lot to think about when managing one, two or three issues. While it’s important to engage externally, it is also vital to include important internal staff in communications. Pre-preparing key messages is essential to help with this.  

A PR specialist can align you with the right strategies, offering you a range of tools to mitigate risk to you and your brand.  

There’s a process to handle a crisis and the key to it all is agility.  

Here are some ways a specialised team, particularly one with a media background, can support you during a crisis.  

Step 1 

You’ve identified there’s a crisis. Get in touch with your main PR contact immediately because the last thing you want is for the issue to go on social media and have no control over messaging and the barrage of comments from disgruntled customers, clients or the community. 

Step 2 

Once you have contacted your PR specialist, they will ask questions to get a full understanding of the situation. Often, they will need to work in conjunction with the legal team, the HR team; it depends on the crisis. Make sure you are prepared and provide as much information as you can such as dates, affiliations, list of key players and a timeline of events. This information is crucial for the public relations team to analyse and start developing key messages quickly. To assist with this process, a stakeholder matrix will be developed and updated regularly to ensure responses are managed effectively and efficiently. The stakeholder matrix will also map out key messages and corresponding communication methods.  

Step 3 

Once the PR team has all the information they need, they will start to prepare a crisis communication plan quickly.  

This will outline the level of risk and what action needs to be carried out and who will be taking it on. For instance, to manage external communications, a media release or holding statement may need to be prepared and social media comments will need to be monitored; a fact sheet may need to be organised and a media log may need to be considered, particularly if a journalist has a lead on the issue and starts making phone calls to seek further information.  

Depending on the risk, sometimes more than one person will be assigned to the task. 

Key messages will also be prepared and captured in the crisis communication plan as well as possible questions media might ask during an interview. 

The plan will be clear and simple so everyone in your team will know how to prepare for the days ahead following the crisis. 

Step 4 

A crisis communication plan helps guarantee a quick release of information as well as a consistent message on all company platforms to ensure everyone is ‘singing from the same song sheet’.  

As your external messaging is being worked on, the PR team will also start preparing internal communications to ensure staff is kept informed of any changes to their work schedule potentially. Correspondence will need to be considered for various channels such as intranet, emails, meetings, and other platforms. 

Steps 3 and 4 are crucial to ensure information reaches employees, partners, customers, media, the general public and other valuable stakeholders. 

Step 5 

Training. Once the PR team has developed the crisis communication plan, they will meet with you to provide you with media training on how to handle hard hitting questions, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. But remember don’t wait until there’s a crisis to activate media training. Crisis exercise should be treated as a refresher of existing media training.  

A crisis is difficult to manage but with the right team behind you, you will feel confident to handle the situation with greater ease.  

Want to know about preparing for a crisis or want to receive media training contact us for personalised media training here.

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