Eight steps to avoid damage to your reputation in a crisis
When businesses bungle their crisis response the harm to their reputation can be significant, leading to resignations, share price drops and damaged relationships with customers.
We outline examples of this in our recent blog post.
However, this doesn’t need to be the fate of your business or organisation. If you’re well prepared and execute your crisis plan accurately, what can look like a storm on the horizon will arrive as a passing shower.
We’ve compiled a list of eight easy steps you can follow to ensure you don’t become the next Dreamworld.
Nominate a group of senior leaders that collectively map out different crisis scenarios and agree on an action plan for each one. Once a plan is in place, the group should meet at least twice a year to refresh it where required.
Practice and evaluate
It’s no use having a plan if it just sits in a filing cabinet or on a server and never sees the light of day until a crisis hits. Do practice runs, where your employees are warned a few days in advance that a practice run is looming, but don’t tell them what scenario it will be, so they are required to rely on initiating the action plan. Then do a team debrief to assess what went well and the areas that need improvement.
Prepare crisis communications material
Have media statements, email templates and internal Q&As prepared for each scenario so that you can communicate to the relevant parties in a timely manner and with the right tone.
Nominate spokespeople in advance and have your communications team check each communication before it’s distributed to ensure messaging is consistent. Contradictory messaging is petrol on the fire.
Lead with transparency
Alleviating customer and stakeholder fears is achieved through effective communication and action. By alerting those important to the business about the situation, you will help extinguish potential bursts of fiery outrage in the public sphere. Calming the situation by delivering the facts will help to build back-up any lost trust and credibility.
If you or the business is at fault, do not double down and refuse to accept responsibility. This can be tempting in today’s world where high-profile populist leaders take this approach, but it is corrosive in a business setting.
Don’t forget to apologise
When the situation is heating up it’s easy to forget the most important part. If you or the business is at fault, accept responsibility and apologise to those affected by your mistake. The wording and tone of your apology must be authentic.
As with the second step, there’s no use just patting yourself on the back after a crisis has passed. Ensure there is an honest appraisal process, learn from experience and do better next time.