Your company’s brand and reputation could be at stake when a crisis occurs – no matter how big or small. It could be a more common threat like a power outage that impacts company operations, a technology delay that frustrates customers enough to post about it on social media, or a weather issue that significantly impacts your customers, employees and their families.
How and when you respond to a crisis is critical to how your workforce sees you as a leader as well as how your customers and prospects may feel about you and your brand in the future.
Here are five tips small and medium-size businesses should consider to be more proactive in planning for and handling the next incident or crisis.
Every good team needs guidelines and direction to succeed, and that is especially true in a crisis. Having crisis management playbooks help ensure all vital information is in one convenient location when an emergency strikes, such as a natural disaster.
A crisis management playbook can be an invaluable resource for common threats to your company, like those mentioned above, and can help protect your brand and reputation.
What is in a crisis management playbook?
Playbooks can contain sensitive material and may be considered confidential documents. Keep playbooks on a secured drive and consider printing a copy and storing it in a secure location in the event technology issues prevent you from accessing it digitally.
You know your company better than anyone. Identify issues you may have encountered in the past and potential issues that may arise in the future. Drafting holding statements – a short response to an incident – can save time and stress when an incident happens. Keep in mind that certain crises, such as a disease outbreak, may require you to provide specific notice to those impacted, especially your employees.
What is a holding statement?
Holding statements address the five Ws and one H:
Statements should be concise and empathetic to the situation and audience. In most instances, this will not be your last statement addressing the issue.
Time is of the essence when your company’s brand and reputation is on the line. Stay calm, sort out the facts, and be transparent with your workforce and the public in a timely manner. For example, having a prepared holding statement ready, that just needs a few details added in, can save valuable time.
Why does time matter?
It can keep rumors from flying and inaccurate information from spreading, keeping you in control of the narrative. When companies wait too long to address an issue, this not only leads to misinformation spreading, but potentially hefty fines for a company, public hearings, and sometimes irreversible reputational damage, among other possible negative consequences. Don’t let that happen to you!
Reaching your workforce or customers quickly and efficiently can be a challenge. Signing up for a text message platform can be a cost-effective way to reach your audience fast. Not everyone may answer a phone call or see their email when it hits their inbox, but most people will see a text message on their cell phone.
Costs can vary by platform and by the amount of text messages you plan to send per month. Some platforms even allow you to segment your lists, letting you reach the proper audience with your message. However, keep in mind that not everyone may have a mobile device that allows them to receive text messages.
Rightly so, there is a fear of negative attention on social media, particularly related to a crisis. However, if you are following your crisis management playbook and utilizing a holding statement, social media can be advantageous.
If your company has an active social media presence, use those accounts to release your statements when appropriate and provide any additional updates and information that you may want public. This allows all interested parties to view your news from an official source and can help you control the narrative. We recommend reading our blog about engaging employees on social media if your business has a less active social media presence.
What about comments?
There will always be a critic or two on social media that may leave a disparaging comment. Do not let emotions take over and refer to your company’s social media policy for correct procedures in responding to comments.
If you don’t have a social media policy, here are some points to include:
An incident can happen at any time, and it is best to be prepared for the worst. Taking these steps will help prepare your company, control the narrative, and maintain your company’s brand and reputation.
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