During a crisis, people understand bad situations happen to good brands, but how a company responds is what matters the most. Many companies or nonprofits are able to respond effectively to a crisis due to extensive planning. Every company/organization needs to have a crisis communications plan secured to keep their reputation safe.
Identify a Crisis Team
First and most importantly, develop a crisis management team. This team should consist of a key leader and a public relations professional. Most companies choose a key leader such as a CEO, but it needs to be a senior level employee that can speak comfortably and knowledgeably on the subject at hand.
Create a Crisis Plan
Once crisis management members are identified, key messaging needs to be developed. This messaging needs to be strong, honest and address how the company will respond to the issue. After the messaging is finalized, it should be dispersed to every employee in preparation for a future crisis. The public relations specialist at your company needs to train key spokespeople with public speaking, media relations and message integration.
Sit down with your team and brainstorm all possible problems that are currently boiling. If online and media presence is monitored daily, very rarely will a company be blind sighted with a crisis. Develop a clear plan for each possible crisis and
think through several outcomes. Be sure to assign team members tasks to execute the plan. It is always a good practice to assign responsibilities ahead of time to all of those that will most likely be involved.
After your plan is created, share it with everyone at the company. This includes web team, human resources, social media team, PR department, receptionist, etc.
When developing a crisis plan, be sure to read “Quick Tips for Handling a PR Disaster” for great advice to keep in mind when developing your plan.
Prepare Your Website for a Crisis
Your website will gain a lot of traffic during a crisis situation. The public will visit the website to see how to help and/or to see how the company is responding to the issue. PrTini advises to not rely only on news teams to spread your message. One way to push out your message is by preparing a page on your website in advance that will be ready when a crisis hits. If a crisis takes places, a few minor adjustments will need to be made, then you can quickly publish the page to go live. This page will need to use the key messaging that spokespeople are using in press releases and press conferences and will most likely be the same keywords people will use to search online. Also, make sure your website can withstand a lot of traffic. The last thing you want is your website to crash during a crisis.
Monitor News and Leverage Social Media
Depending on the size of your company, assign a few people to handle social media at all hours of the night if needed. One person will need to be on location and one or two at the office responding to the audience that chooses to reach out. Again, key messaging needs to be used on social sites as well. Social media is a great way to leverage public opinion -especially during a catastrophe.
Gather with your team and discuss what went well, what didn’t go well and what you can learn for the next crisis. Be sure to update your crisis communication plan with the changes and inform your team.
If you are looking for an online marketing agency to monitor and enhance your online reputation, call Agency Entourage at 214.414.3035.
Do you have any proven methods that worked during a time of crisis? Share it with us below.