Now more than ever, your business or brand’s reputation is linked to your bottom line. How can you protect it? With a comprehensive crisis communications plan. A full plan is beyond the remit of this column, however, considering today’s business environment, below are a few key points to note when it comes to crisis communication and your crisis communication plan.
1. Accept that your business is not immune to a crisis – Every business/brand at some point encounters challenges or even disasters. However, very often it’s not always the crisis that destroys the reputation but more so, the way in which it is handled. Whether it’s a large or small/medium sized enterprise, there is always the potential for a crisis situation e.g. food poisoning at your hotel/resort/restaurant, patient dying unexpectedly at a healthcare facility, a skin product causing an adverse reaction, your business being accused of fraud or financial distress, your company being accused of polluting the local environment among other things.
2. Have answers to key questions – Planning is critical; waiting until there is a crisis is not the best approach. Before there is any semblance of a crisis, you should have answers to these questions e.g. What should you say if a crisis arises? Who should say it? How often should it be communicated? What channels should be used to communicate? Should you reply to all social media comments? What are the legal implications for apologising? Have you or the team had media training? The answers to these questions should be documented in a crisis communication plan.
3. Create a crisis team – Who will be part of the crisis communication team? This decision is a very serious one. Remember crisis communication is a strategic action within your business. Your Operation Manager, IT Director, Human Resources lead, Comms Manager as well as your CEO/Owner should be on this team. Bear in mind, too many voices slow you down but at the same time, your team should consist of people who can make decisions quickly.
4. Complete a risk register – Your risk register is used to identify those areas in the business that are most likely to cause issues from an operational or financial perspective and by extension, a reputational perspective. The risk is dependent on the sector and industry but can include for example times of the year when the business may be audited, impact of severe weather on your business, risk of a customer being hurt by your product/service, risk of redundancies due to financial pressures or even the impact of several more variants on your business/brand. No matter how unlikely you think it is, plan for the worst.
Candice Sealey is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Ignite! a Full-service Marketing & PR Consultancy that helps businesses/brands to stand out and communicate the right message to the right people at the right time through Strategy, Marketing, Media services and Design solutions. She is also a freelance content writer, advertising copywriter, voice-over talent, media personality. Follow us on FB & IG 784-432-2223. Email: igniteresults