The crisis is bad because it can have extremely negative consequences for the reputation of the business. Its immediate results can be a shattered trust on the part of both potential customers and partners. Often the situation is either completely out of control, or in danger of getting out of control at any moment.
Most international companies have separate manuals for responding to a specific crisis situation. In general, in crisis situations, they are guided by the main principle “do what will lead to the slightest damage.” We share with you why crisis communications are needed in business conflicts.
Why do we need crisis communications in business conflicts
Any problems that arise in business are aggravated by the fact that in the era of digital technologies, it only takes them a couple of hours to develop into a high-profile scandal and not only undermine the reputation of those who are involved in the conflict, but also put an end to their future ability to do business.
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it. The exact phrase of Warren Buffett, said many years ago, is more relevant today than ever.
You don’t have to look far to find a relevant example. Suffice it to recall the YARO brand, engaged in the production of healthy food products. Its owner posted a playful photo online, which depicted the central square of the capital of the aggressor country. This raised a wave of indignation. And even the apologies, which, by the way, were received late, did not improve the situation. As a result, many well-known chains refused to sell YARO products.
Peculiarities of crisis communications
What to do on the first day of the crisis and what to do to prevent possible negativity.
- Be always ready
Most global companies can boast of pre-written and prepared instructions that spell out what to do in case of unforeseen crises. These instructions are called crisis roadmaps.
The corresponding instructions sometimes describe hundreds of possible problem situations and options for public communication regarding each of them. Moreover — these manuals must be updated regularly to keep up with new realities. Ideally, they should be updated every six months. Moreover, many companies also have recommendations for employees on how exactly they should communicate on social networks, what topics to raise and how to respond to possible provocations. The main task of this — prevent business from being at the center of a scandal.
However, even such detailed and carefully written instructions cannot provide for absolutely everything. Therefore, even they sometimes get into scandals.
Think of a Swedish clothing retailer that used a dark-skinned boy with a hoodie that said “Best Monkey in the Jungle” in their ad campaign. Accusations of racism were not long in coming. And the indignation on the part of opinion leaders only fueled this situation.
And although the changes were made on time, all the relevant photos of the bougie were removed, and the responsible people were punished, the shares of this company sank by a third over the year, and in South Africa they even closed a number of stores of this brand. Of course, time passed, and the scandal was forgotten. Today, the brand continues to develop and explore new promising markets.
How to properly resolve emerging crises? To do this, it is important to create a cross-functional team in advance, which will consist of PR specialists, as well as experts who will work with the incident. If the members of this team know the algorithm of their actions, and also begin to act promptly and smoothly, then even unpleasant situations that have arisen will not be publicized.
- Preparing position paper
Crisis always implies that specific and clear communication must take place. It is important to understand why what happened happened and to gather as much information about the incident as possible. All this will then go into the preparation of statements. These are short messages that describe the official position of the company.
What they should be:
– They need to give only verified information, which is desirable to coordinate with lawyers in advance.
– Messages should explain what happened. And give an answer to the question of what the company is going to do with it in the future.
– It is important to talk about how important the life, health and rights of people and the environment are.
– We speak the language of facts, avoiding emotions and especially sarcasm.
– If the company accepts its fault, then it must apologize and report on the measures that it will take to change the situation.
The message can be small and only a few paragraphs long. If necessary, you can always publish upd and add new points. Statements are published on the official public sites of the company.
- 24/7 monitoring and working with media services
First of all, you need to determine the source in which the problematic information first appeared. If you can’t do this yourself, then use the services of one of the monitoring agencies.
If the media turned out to be such a source, then contact them and ask them to update the information with an addition about the position that your company takes in relation to the incident. Mention that there must be a balance of statements and opinions. If someone’s post on social networks is the source, be sure to comment on it on behalf of the official representative of your company.
If you are approached by the TV channels, before commenting, ask the journalists for a list of questions and allow yourself time to prepare answers. Keep in mind that not everything you say will be aired. Most likely, it will not be cut into pieces in the best way.
And here are some more recommendations on how to save face in a scandal:
– Don’t be silent. There are situations when there is simply nothing to say. But even in this case, you should get in touch and say that you are actively working to clarify the circumstances and resolve the issues that have arisen.
– Don’t waste your time. In a crisis, every minute counts. Be active, act quickly. Rest later.
– Try to be honest with people. If you keep silent or distort information, then this will definitely not play in your favor.
– Don’t be led by emotions. Under any circumstances, remain calm and restrained.
– Only the facts. If you operate with any information, then you must be absolutely sure of its veracity. Otherwise, you risk not only your reputation, but also your relationship with the law.
– Remember that any conflict can be translated into the area of law. Therefore, do not forget about the need for a prepared evidence base. Save all correspondence, take the necessary screenshots. The screenshots must show the date and time.
– Keep the team informed. All your employees should not only be well informed about what is happening, but also should know the official position of the company.
– Hire experts with experience to help you deal with the problem.
- Further developments
Only a very small percentage of crisis situations can be brought to a state of stability in the first day. More often it is the other way around — The situation is getting worse and worse every hour. Especially if the company is silent or distorts the real facts.
Therefore, remember that the most important thing is a calm and competent reaction on the very first day of the problem. If everything is done correctly, then the company’s losses will be minimal in the end.
It is difficult to build normal communication during a crisis. And mainly because the situation often changes and begins to need new, often either tough or, on the contrary, creative anti-crisis measures. If these measures are not crowned with due success, it can lead to a real disaster. And even the end of the company. Therefore, contact experienced specialists for anti-crisis measures. For example, to S&P Agency specialists.