June 12, 2012

Manage, monitor, minimise: an effective crisis management strategy

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Issues and crises happen. You cannot control a crisis; you can only hope to manage it. In this latest blog post, V Formation’s Diane Wood gives you some of the main components of an effective crisis management strategy to help ensure you are ‘good to go’ if a tricky news issue arises..

Effective and planned communications are the watch-words for any organisation faced with a crisis, and give you the best chance of minimising the immediate and long term effects on corporate reputation. With this in mind, your approach to a crisis management strategy should be underpinned by a commitment to be sure to communicate, be honest, available and transparent, to maintain integrity and show you care about what has happened.

  1. Manage the situation – anticipate and address all the possible issues from a local and national angle, and all the associated issues. You can’t alter what has happened but you can influence perceptions and stop it escalating.
  2. More than a statement – crisis management is much more than just issuing a press statement; other systems have to be put in place to ensure that all staff understand the procedure and spokespeople as far as the press are concerned, and a plan must be agreed on the information to be divulged and how this will be communicated to the media, shareholders, clients, staff and so on. Remember to bring your social networks into the plan and ensure your staff are briefed on how to deal with any direct queries or comments.
  3. Risk management – understand the potential risk and respond accordingly; agree the key messages but monitor these, evaluate and fine tune as necessary.
    Plan your contingencies – including your crisis management team and how they are to be contacted; set up an operations room and procedure document. Agree within your team who will be the media spokespeople (considering their experience of dealing with the media and if they’ve undergone media training).
  4. Competencies – ensure your crisis management team includes individuals that add gravitas, credibility, expertise and support, from the CEO and technical experts to legal advisers, PR and social media expertise, and the necessary administrative and ‘engine room’ support.
  5. Documentation – agree the facts and tone of voice of what is to be said, and by whom; ensure all internal staff are briefed on the procedure for all third parties, including the media and customers.
  6. Be ready – to communicate what happened, how it happened, what you have done to control and contain it. Express concern, how preventable the situation is and what the business is doing to ensure it never happens again.

The golden rules? Prepare thoroughly; write everything down; don’t lie or lose your temper and don’t be afraid to say no. Monitor all media interest and online and offline coverage; don’t give the story oxygen. And when the dust has settled, make an honest review of how the situation has been reported in the media and the impacts on customers and third parties.

For help and advice with any aspect of your public relations or communications strategy please do get in touch. We’d be pleased to help. Call us on 0115 822 6364 or drop us an email.

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