If a crisis were to affect your business today, would you be prepared to deal with it? Perhaps you have some reason to believe that a crisis simply won’t happen to your business. You may have a smaller business, you may form close, personal relationships with your clients or customers and you may be absolutely vigorous about your online reputation management. However, a simple glance through news headlines indicates that crises happen to businesses all the time–whether these businesses are large or small, have dedicated, one-on-one service for their clients and customers or all manner of other things that one would think should adequately protect them. The difference between businesses that survive crises and ones that don’t is how they protect against, prepare for, and manage crises.
The Basics of Crisis Management
A business crisis is any sudden negative event that affects the business’ reputation and viability. A crisis has the potential to do incredible damage to a business, which is why crisis management includes preparing for the unexpected and responding quickly when it happens. Regardless of the cause of the crisis and whether it was completely unpredictable or a potential risk as a result of one’s activities, it demands quick decisions and action in order to mitigate the damage. This is why preventing against, preparing for and responding to crises is the purpose of crisis management.
Some of the basics of effective crisis management include:
- Protecting the brand, value, and reputation of the business.
- Communicate well throughout any crisis in order to maintain good command of the situation.
- Verify that information presented by the media and other third parties are factual.
- Maintain the business’ credibility and relationships with shareholders.
- Mitigate any legal consequences that may result from the crisis.
- Stabilize the business so that it remains viable and survives through the crisis.
A business’ crisis management should begin before a problem arises. They need to consider how a potential crisis will affect not only the business’ value but also their employees, customers, suppliers, and the general public. Considering that a crisis can actually strike at any time, planning ahead is the surest way to ensure one makes it through. Following are some key steps to follow for crisis management:
- Establish a plan. The main things a business needs to do in a crisis is protect anyone who can be harmed by the crisis, keep the right audiences informed about the facts and ensure appropriate measures are taken to ensure the organization’s survival. A crisis plan should, therefore, list out the specific actions to be taken in the event of a crisis.
- Assign a spokesperson to represent the business throughout the crisis. Having a single, designated spokesperson during a crisis helps to make sure that the business’ message remains clear, concise, and consistent. This is essential to maintaining, repairing or strengthening one’s reputation.
- Speak with honesty and transparency. Nothing can exacerbate the damaging effects of a crisis like altered facts and twisted stories. By remaining honest and transparent through all channels, the business can help to diffuse the situation and prevent destructive rumors.
- Make sure employees understand what is happening. Employees who understand what is happening are better able to do their part in keeping the business smoothly moving forward. They are also less likely to either intentionally or unintentionally contribute to the rumors.
- Reach out to suppliers and customers. There is no easy way to inform suppliers and customers about a crisis, but it is always better for them to learn about a crisis from the business itself rather than through the media or some other source.
- Communicate a lot throughout the crisis. When it comes to surviving any sort of crisis a good rule of thumb is to communicate “too much” rather than too little. A lack of information leaves a hole that can easily be filled with lies, rumors, and exaggerations. This is especially true during the reign of social media–where one post can go viral in a matter of minutes.
It only takes one poorly-managed crisis to destroy the hard work that has gone into establishing a business. An unfortunate fact is that the underlying cause of the crisis can be entirely fictitious and without proof, and yet the damage is just as bad as if it were based in fact. Fortunately, just as one poorly-managed crisis can be devastating, one well-managed crisis can prove the strength and durability of a business, attracting positive attention even as the business works through a difficult situation. The key difference between these two situations is advance preparation, as it is essentially impossible to think clearly when one is in the midst of a crisis, and any delaying in responding and resolving the crisis can worsen the situation.
For more information about establishing a crisis management plan, contact Web Content Development today.