With the speed at which information travels in today’s modern world, what constitutes a crisis has changed and being able to respond in a timely manner as a business has become increasingly mission critical.
It is not just major events such as data breaches or catastrophes that matter today. Someone in your company making an idle comment can suddenly become big news if it has been taken up on social media. A customer who films a poorly behaving or obstructive staff member on your business premises can instantly create a negative focus that needs to be handled quickly.
That is why having your communications team fully trained in crisis management is an essential part of modern business strategy. Hawkeye Media are experts in delivering crisis media training for any sector and are able to deliver online via zoom or teams or in person when the Covid restrictions are lifted.
Below we look at some of the basics when it comes to crisis communications.
Respond in Real-Time
In the past, there was usually a period of grace when businesses could compile their response and get all their ducks in order. This is increasingly the exception rather than the rule. Crisis communication today is a 24/7 business, and you need to be prepared to respond quickly and decisively.
This means that your company needs to monitor social media and news feeds and have contingency plans in place if something goes wrong. It might be something simple like a complaint on Facebook about your service, but you have to be prepared to get in there and provide a response and you need to be nimble on your feet.
Video Has More Impact
There is one major component of recent crisis management that is undeniable. We all carry around our mobile phones nowadays and we are happy to take video in any situation. In any crisis that is being filmed by the mainstream media, you will also see plenty of people lifting their mobiles and doing their own bit of freelance journalism.
You have to be prepared as a business that someone, somewhere will be filming your company, your staff or something else and that this footage is likely to end up online where it can be shared with thousands in just a few short minutes. Your response needs to take this into account, and you must have strategies in place for dealing with moments like this – for example, replying to or explaining the crisis on the channel where the video appeared and what medium you are going to use.
Your Apology Has to Mean Something
We are used to companies apologising when they get something wrong. It can sound a bit robotic and not very genuine, however. Where possible, you must mean your apology, be sincere and have empathy for those who have been affected.
Take Action Where You Can
Often, people don’t want an apology as they let off steam by criticising your business online to everyone who is following them. They want action. If your business can do something to mitigate the crisis and do so quickly, it can be more effective than any conciliatory words from your top CEO.
Monitor Social Media and Respond
Social media is not simply about your business talking to the masses and explaining your point of view. It’s a two-way process, a conversation between you and your customers who follow you on the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It’s important to monitor what is being said and answer back directly to show that you are taking the crisis seriously and have your customers’ best interests at heart.
Come Across as Human
Finally, and it’s often the most difficult thing to do on social media sites, you need to appear human.
If you sound like you are reading from a prepared script or you don’t sound genuine, then you are more likely to enrage opinion even more than provide solace for those in the online world. It takes more than a little bravery to go in front of a camera and use your own words but, at the end of the day, it can deliver huge dividends.