So the worst has happened. The firm whose reputation you manage has befallen a crisis. This is a trying time and how you handle it can save the firm’s reputation or malign it even further. Public perception is at its most critical and every step you take must be carefully thought out. Instead of seeing it as a challenge, look at it as an opportunity to create an even better public image of the firm you manage, to be the hero of the hour.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re managing the reputation of a firm in crisis:
Gather All The Facts:
The very firsts thing you must do as part of the crisis communication services you provide is to understand the issue that arose. Why did it happen? What were the factors that led to the crisis? You need to have as much information as possible. This will enable you to analyse the crisis and craft an effective public relations strategy. Do not take anything at simple face value, find out the background story. It may be tremendously tempting to respond to the crisis right away, but it is vital that you are completely aware of all the aspects of a crisis first. It becomes very easy to make assumptions, but to keep a cool head is the only way to understand an issue fully and identify the root of the problem.
Just because you know all the details of the crisis, does not mean that they need to be shared with the whole world. Judge which facts need to be presented. Keep all communication relevant and remember that the more you share, the more is left put in the open for criticism. Keep any messages to the public short and to the point. Address the issue, render appropriate apologies, clarify what needs to clarified, but do not make your message to the public a platform for publicity. Let the firm’s corrective actions speak for it.
Sure, putting a positive spin on a story is part of crisis communication support. But you need to remember that a firm in crisis has lost a great amount of trust in the eyes of the public and stakeholders. What you should be aiming to do is build that trust again. Therefore, it is essential that the firm accepts any mistakes it has made and apologises. Do not try to justify the firm’s actions, be as honest and upfront about the issue as you can. Do not make excuses or assumptions about the situation. The blame game will only serve to further weaken the position of the firm. Assure the stakeholders that the firm is doing its very best to fix the problem. Share some of the corrective strategies planned if you feel it is appropriate.
Approach the crisis with maturity and a cool head and you will always be able to get out of the situation with the firm’s dignity intact, and be the ‘hero of the hour’.