Do You Know What to do in a Crisis?
When a crisis hits your company you only get ONE chance to make things right and your time here is limited. Here are some tips to correctly handle a crisis:
1) Get the facts:
- You want to be open and honest with your audience. Ensure you are giving out the correct information; once you’ve said something you can’t take it back.
2) Sort your spokesperson:
- This is going to be the person dealing directly with the media so ensure this person is properly trained and is able to answer tough questions in front of the camera.
- TIP: ABC — Answer, Bridge, Control: This is the best way to deal with tricky questions. Just listen to politicians to fully understand how this works: they answer with one word and then bridge to their actual message BEFORE delivering it again and again.
3) Coordinate your team.
- Ensure that your team is properly trained. Inform them that journalists will start calling an may come in disguise so they should be cautious with who they are giving information out to. Most reporters aren’t concerned with who gives them a quote, as long as they get some information. The people handling the calls should be well briefed and experienced.
4) Stay calm and composed.
- Whoever’s handling the calls will probably get difficult, leading questions, which can easily lead to inadvertent quotes appearing in print if you’re not careful. Get a statement read, get it approved and offer it to anyone who contacts you.
- TIP: Avoid saying “no comment.” This phrase becomes a dangerous one, making you and your company look unprepared and guilty. Always supply reporters and the public with open and honest information.
5) Understand who your stakeholders are.
- It’s not just the media you should communicate with in a crisis. Make sure you’re handling all your audiences, including staff and customers. Internal communication is as important as external in dealing with a crisis.
6) Stay consistent.
- If you’re working for a large organization, there will be lots of people whom journalists will try to approach for a quote or background information. Staff should be briefed with your contact details when the journalists come knocking.
7) Have everything in place in advance
- All of the above should be part of a crisis communications plan that’s drafted and finalized long before it’s actually implemented. Trying to pull something together when you’ve got your boss in one ear asking what to do next and journalists in the other demanding a response as the crisis unfolds, is nearly impossible. Even if you do manage it, you will look unprepared and will run the risk of missing important details.