Saying sorry to someone in a personal setting can be tricky but when the sorry comes from a company, it can be even more difficult.  Overdo it and you can seem insincere but underdo it and the whole thing can get worse.  That’s why delivering an effective apology is a key part of crisis management – and here are some tips to follow.

Is an apology needed?

Before a word is said, it is important to look at if an apology is needed.  We’ve all seen big-name companies like Facebook and KFC issuing apologies for different things in the last year or so and the rise of social media seems to make these things even more common.  And while there are doubtless times when an apology is needed, sometimes it isn’t and can actually work against you.  think about if the company has done something wrong, something has gone wrong or something it regrets has happened – then you need an apology.

Move quickly and legally

One of the biggest criticisms often levelled at companies is that they don’t respond quickly enough when something goes wrong.  This becomes the story, so the key is to move quickly and take action.  Social media makes this even more important so don’t ignore it and hope it will go away – take decisive action.

However, before saying anything, speak with the legal department or a lawyer.  By apologising, you can be accepting liability, and this might not be the right move.  Make sure you balance the need to manage damage with the potential legal issues.

Be sincere and human

We have all seen those robotic apologies such as ‘we are sorry for any inconvenience caused’ and such and they don’t really help things.  They should like a copy and paste job to just say the company has apologised.  Therefore, when drafting an apology, be sincere and be a human.  Don’t use corporate language and talk like you would to a real person or if you are using a spokesperson, let them speak in their own words.

Take specific action

The main thing people want when something goes wrong is an apology and an explanation as well as some idea as to what is being done to stop it happening again.  So taking action to deal with the problem is important and also be specific about what is being done.  Watch out for that corporate language and instead, walk through the action in normal language as part of the apology.  Talk to people like you would in person to tell them what is being done.

Be accountable

The final part of a good apology is to be accountable for what has happened.  Don’t follow companies that make an apology that basically passes the blame off onto someone else.  Instead, admit that something has gone wrong and make your company accountable for it, even if it is wasn’t entirely your fault.  Reassure people that it is a one-off and steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence and you can successfully manage the crisis.

To ensure you team is ready for any interactions with the media ensuring you have the right media training in place is essential. Discuss your needs with the team at Hawkeye today to get a bespoke package in place to give your team the confidence they need when dealing with media questions.