Crisis Management Strategies for Businesses and Brands
A negative review. A lawsuit. A dismissal. A global pandemic. These are all examples of a crisis that can impact a business or a brand. As in any emergency, being prepared is of the utmost importance. Having processes and procedures for how to handle a crisis as well as the ensuing communications is vital for maintaining stability and preserving integrity. It does not matter if the crisis is small or catastrophic; how an individual, company or global conglomerate manages a crisis is indicative of their principles, practices, and culture. The public is always watching and listening, therefore what is said or portrayed matters just as much as what is not said or not portrayed. Here are 5 crisis management strategies that will help any business or brand successfully navigate these moments of truth.
1. Create a detailed plan
Emergencies happen and the degree to which one is prepared is often the deciding factor behind coming out on the other side unscathed, scraped up, broken, or perished. Be proactive and do not wait until a crisis happens to begin building your playbook. Think through the many scenarios that could be potentially devastating and work from there.
2. Position the right people
Plans are necessary but without competent and prepared people to execute those plans, the results will most likely exacerbate the crisis and make everything worse. Once you have your plan drawn out, identify the people who can carry out the tasks and then work through the scenarios with them. Be sure to listen to their feedback, concerns and ideas and then tweak the plan accordingly. If that person leaves the organization, be sure to note this in the exit interview and then update the plan.
3. Be present and focused
There are many moving parts during a crisis: identifying the cause, managing expectations, communicating clearly and effectively, implementing solutions, etc. This is not the time to be concerned with social lunches, book signings, golf outings or business trips. Prioritize and be productive. Whether the crisis management is going smoothly or not, having a present and focused leader is the best possible scenario for a positive outcome.
4. Silence is rarely appropriate
When composing your crisis communications strategy, you must focus on being honest, upfront and take responsibility when possible. Transparency equals trust and for most businesses and brands, building and establishing trust has been their focus for many, many years. When a crisis occurs, the worst thing that anyone can do is to create diversions, lie, engage in a cover-up, or stay silent. The public is going to tell your story no matter what, so better that you lead the narrative.
5. Lead with empathy and humanity
During a crisis, everyone, internally and externally, is seeking extraordinary leadership. Those individuals take their roles seriously and in times of crisis, they rely more on being expedient over perfect. They also focus on what matters most – people. Successful leaders know how to manage people during a crisis, they know how to support and guide individuals and crowds, and they especially know how to talk to and about people during a crisis. They speak from the heart using thoughtful language as well as relaying their deep knowledge and expertise to appropriately direct any and all conversations.
Preparation, positioning, performance, and people – by focusing your time and energy towards these components during a crisis, you and your team will ensure a stronger and more successful outcome that will hopefully lead your business and brand into a bright and healthy future.