For some reason, the word ‘crisis’ is associated with ‘panic’, and most of today’s organizations tend to immediately get pushed into a panic mode at the distant sight of a crisis. What then happens when there is a real crisis on hand, is anyone’s guess.
There are examples all over of how even the communication savvy leadership/PR team of an organization, gifted with a fair amount of media leverage, gets into a shell and resorts to denial mode when it’s time to speak and write more information, to be virally sent out to every media outlet possible.
The cardinal rule in handling PR in times of a crisis is to get immediately speaking and sending our fact statements to the entire gamut of media houses – including web2.0 and social platforms. The singular intent once the information/details of the crisis is handed out is to deliberately invite media conversations, with the intent of giving more and more details possible. Never give a remote sense that your organization is shying away from the media – even when the crisis in not your own making, when you shy away, the immediate conclusion is that the organization wants to hide facts.
While there can be well documented papers (by your PR agency or internal communications team) of how to respond when there is a crisis, it’s easy to manage a crisis when some basics are in place.
Just see if these things are in place in your organization, anytime round the year:
- a designated spokesperson, who will instantly be updated on any crisis that may have hit – he is the points man for all information to be given – facts, details, images, live feed and whatever.
- Handpicked communication team that swings into action – gets into an auto pilot mode in any mishap – which is connected and networked 24/7/365 to take the crisis PR initiatives. Stay abreast all through the crisis life cycle, and ceaselessly and tirelessly handles all queries from every corner of the globe.
- a communication mechanism (call it a protocol) which communicates to all the key decision makers and every internal stakeholder in the organization the details and occurrences of any crisis that may have hit, how the consequences will be managed, how internal/external stakeholder interests will be protected, what are the cost consequences and the impact on the organizations’ fiscals et al.
- a standard template that captures all the finer details of any mishap that may occur, roll it out into the form of a media release, so that the same can be handed to the media fraternity and follow up questions taken.
- a mechanism that ensure that all the state authorities are informed of the mishap in the shortest possible time, with as much details as gather-able in the least lead time.
- A media room which gets activated when such an event happens, where all the journalistic fraternity can report from, with all information fed to them officially, live wire.
These may sound baby steps – yet, in the crisis management plan, many times its lack of this basic preparedness that brings in misery to the organization, than the actual crisis itself.
Make sure your organizations is set ready in the first steps of managing crises. – As the old adage, being well prepared is half the battle won.
That’s true in managing a crisis too.