A crisis can take many forms and businesses need to be agile to cope with the changing landscape of communication. Just a few decades ago, a catastrophe such as a bad customer experience or IT crash would have taken a while to filter into general media.

Today the impact is almost immediate. People learn about a crisis on social media almost as soon as it happens (sometimes while it is happening). Because of this rapid dissemination of information, a much smaller event can sometimes turn into a full-blown crisis before anyone has a chance to draw breath.

For a small business, this can be extremely damaging. With everyone carrying around a smartphone and on at least one social media platform, it’s relatively easy for someone to take a video of poor service in a restaurant or shop and then post it online.

Make Your Crisis Management Immediate

Small things now have the potential to create a crisis and that means businesses of all sizes need to be prepared. Crisis management is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week problem and being flexible and responsive is critical.

An incident may occur when your business has closed for the day. Perhaps someone in your business treated a customer badly. That customer took a video, went home and as your staff were leaving for the day, posted the video online. Because they have a good following that video starts to get shared.

You need to respond to this quickly. If you don’t find out about it until you get back to work the next day, that’s 12 hours during which the video has been shared and commented on more than you want.

The Golden Hour

There’s widespread agreement that a quick reaction to a crisis is essential in dealing with it effectively. There may be just an hour once the news has got out that you must get a response in. The longer there is silence from your company, the worse things are going to get.

Responding so quickly, however, is a challenge for many businesses, particularly smaller ones. Companies need to have a process in place to deal with video as this is the media that so often goes viral.

Getting the Response Out

If the crisis is the fault of your business, then a meaningful apology, issued quickly is the first important step. This response can also easily go wrong if it lacks empathy and understanding and seems to be just a box-ticking exercise by your company. It is important to give details of what has been done to handle the crisis and how you are going to stop it from happening again in the future in addition to the heartfelt apology.

Social media is challenging for businesses because it is a two-way conversation. Effective monitoring of channels and responding authentically when necessary is certainly critical. Robotic or standardized responses often don’t cut the mustard today – most customers know when they are being fobbed off.

To handle a modern crisis, however small, businesses need to seem more human than ever. That takes a certain amount of bravery, but it can deliver huge dividends if you get the approach right. The team at Hawkeye Media can ensure you team have the tools they need to manage a crisis situation with the media with a bespoke crisis media training experience create for your business’ individual needs.