In every organization, the time will come when an event occurs (or does not occur) which directly – and negatively – could impact customers, employees, financial partners, Board/shareholders/investors, suppliers/vendors, prospects, community residents, elected officials, policy makers and others.
Such an occurrence could drastically damage credibility, reputation, trust and retention (employee, customer) while wreaking havoc for months – or years – unless it is dealt with quickly, clearly and professionally.
In a crisis, who speaks for your organization? When communicating to the above stakeholders, the media, business/civic leaders etc., how do you address these problems or issues? What do you say, when do you say it and to whom?
Here are five steps to be able to respond to a potentially damaging issue or a crisis:
- Know your weaknesses in advance. Identify where things could go wrong and be ready for them to do so.
- Develop a communications response team and process by identifying the key individuals in advance.
- Who is the primary person to speak to all relevant audiences in a clear, concise manner and field inquiries from the media, customers, employees, shareholders etc.?
- Has leadership been professionally trained to deal with the media? In a crisis?
- Clearly understand the situation and facts. Do not respond to speculation, rumor or innuendo.
Hope is not a strategy, Denial is not just a river in Egypt and “No Comment” implies you are “at fault.” Understand what can go wrong, be ready for it and have a clear plan to respond. You’ll sleep better knowing you’re ready when it does.