by Gary Jenkins No Brainer Agency
EVERY organisation, regardless of its size or industry, has the potential to be impacted by a PR crisis.
It’s not always as big as COVID-19, but crises – big or small – can have a significant and lasting impact on a business. Sometimes it can be terminal.
As businesses prepare to come out of lockdown and the furlough scheme begins to come to an end, they should be preparing now to handle some of the key issues they might face down the line.
Many businesses are simple not preparing for this at all, but it is often relatively simple. We use an eight-step process:
1. Anticipate the key risks your business might face then prioritise them (make sure you add ‘pandemic’ in there now too)
2. Get a crisis response team ready (for if and when a crisis ever hits) – define who will leads the communications you may need and make sure they have a direct line to the company’s decision makers
3. Monitor and track your landscape (through media and social media monitoring tools) so you can identify potential issues and trends in real-time
4. Choose and media train the right spokespeople, so they’re ready if the time comes you might need to handle a media or customer firestorm
5. Ensure you identify all your audiences, channels and know who’s accountable for them – the key is to get the right people in the right seats for when you need to communicate with your audiences
6. If a crisis hits, make sure to get ahead of the story – respond quickly, accurately and don’t be afraid to let people know if you don’t know something. It’s OK.
7. Always be human and be honest in your communications – think about what the audience need to know, need to hear and how you’re going to do that
8. Learn lessons from a crisis every, single time
Step eight is often over-looked because so many business leaders are too busy patting themselves on the backs after recovering from a crisis….but, without doubt, this is THE most critical step in any crisis.
Learn the lessons, make the changes, be clear about the response plan and who’s accountable. If nothing else, use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
The great thing that lockdown has given business leaders the time to do this right now, before ‘business as usual’ resumes. If it ever resumes.
Use this thinking time, space and opportunity to get your team together and to prepare for something like this ever happening again.
Do it before you forget all the big or small things that went wrong and what could be fine-tuned, and ensure you have the ‘right people in the right seats’ to respond quickly to another crisis that might hit.
Hopefully we won’t have another crisis of this scale to work through. But, by organising yourself around a crisis management framework and using a few simple steps, you can ensure you’re certainly better prepared if, Heaven forbid, it ever does.