A crisis doesn’t have to end as a disaster. Although there is always a possibility for that kind of scenario; it depends on a reaction of crisis management. One of the main roles of crisis management team is to control crisis and try to turn it into your favor. How can you do that? It doesn’t matter whether it’s small business or a multinational company, a crisis can hit anyone, anytime. Mostly, that happens when you least expect it. But, there are also crises that can be predicted. In both cases, the crisis management team plays a key role.
What is a crisis management and how important role it has in business today?
Crises may cause a huge loss in a company, so it is crucial to be ready for any possible scenario that could happen. That’s why it is important to have a crisis management team well organized. But, what do we mean by crisis management? With all its procedures and protocol, rules, recommendations, crisis management handles all kind of crisis in the company, from small ones to huge and complicated problems which can have a great impact not only on a company but also on a wider community.
Today, everything happens so fast. The information spreads rapidly through all digital channels, so it is very hard to control it if you do not have a good plan and strategy of communication. It is good to highlight here that no one expects you to have a plan for every single situation before it happens, but it’s good to have a basic team as well as basic plan for crisis situations in general. That means that in a case of an emergency all members of the team should know what their role is.
So-called chain of command is crucial here. All members of the team should know what their assignments are, responsibilities as well as obligations. It is also important to know who can make decisions on the team and in what circumstances. When it comes to a crisis, depends on a situation, you will have to activate some, and sometimes all members of the crisis management team.
What experts do we need in crisis management team?
A crisis management team should be well coordinated with the clearly defined responsibilities and obligations. Those experts you need in the company every day to work in their area of expertise, but they also should be trained to react adequately and fast in order to prevent a crisis escalation. That is why you need a custom-made solution depends on your organization and industry, and not the common list of experts. But, despite that, there are some experts that everyone should have, no matter what industry you are operating in. We will present them below.
The first person you will think of when someone mention crisis is PR expert. And you are right. They are that strong and important connection between the company and the public.
Communication is important in all aspects of life, but when it comes to a crisis, the role of communications in the whole process becomes crucial. PR experts should have all the information about the particular case, so they could decide what to communicate to the public. Internal communication is also a very important factor of crisis communication.
People who work for the company should be informed about the new situation. Remember, they can be helpful to PR expert in process of spreading the right information, but, to do that, they have to be informed, and they have to believe in what the PR expert is saying. Transparency in communication with everyone is very important. It may help you to confirm consistency which is an essential part of your online reputation.
PR manager should use connections in media to publish the right information in order to prevent the crisis or if the crisis is already there, to make sure to stop it and minimize its consequences.
Social Media has a great role in today business world. Everyone who is serious in its business realized a long time ago that Social Media is not just for fun. It can be a very helpful channel to reach your clients. According to that, you need to have a serious expert in that field. That means a good Community Manager is “a must”.
People are very active on Social Media today, so every good and bad experience they would like to share, they will place through some of Social Media platforms. You have to be ready for that. Also, it is useful to know that people like to share their bad experience more than good ones. So, what can you do here, and what can your Community Manager do to prevent crises?
Monitoring is recommendable, not just on Social Media, but on the whole Internet. That way you will be informed every time your name or your company or brand name is mentioned on the Internet. Your Community Manager will be able to react right on time, before any sign of the crisis. And that is the point. To prevent a crisis, not to repair the damage later.
The Community Manager should be available to users, ready to answer their questions and to offer them a solution for their problems they are having with your product or service. The point is to track communication on all active Social Media accounts and to turn it into your favor. Social Media should work for you and your business, and Community Manager is here to help you achieve that.
Every company depends on the industry, the size of the company, type of the business, should have, at least one legal advisor. That person could be even outsourced but informed in all relevant information. It is crucial, especially in a crisis to find a balance between legal advisor, Community Manager, and PR expert. They should all work together for the same cause. But, keep in mind that legal advisors will want to shorten all the information that will be presented to the public, in order to prevent possible lawsuits.
On the other hand, PR expert and Community Manager are familiar with the importance of giving the right information to the public at the right time. If the public doesn’t have the proper information, maybe they won’t have a base for a lawsuit, but they will have a base for rumors, and that can cause seriously damage to your reputation, which can also cause enormous damage to the company. That is why it is important for those three experts to cooperate.
Are we facing a crisis today more than a few years ago?
It always has been, and it will be crisis situations, but the difference between now and, for example, 20 years ago, is in the fact that possibilities for escalation of crisis are much bigger today. The reason for that we can find in new technologies which gave us an opportunity to get all the information very quickly. Today, even a small crisis, if not handled well, can become global in a minute. With our gadgets, we are almost, all the time connected to the whole world, and Social Media has a great contribution here. That is why the role of Community Manager is so important.
How to prevent a crisis?
The best way to prevent a crisis is to invest in monitoring and communication. As we have already mentioned, monitoring will keep you informed about your name mentions on Social Media, as well as the whole Internet. You just have to react on every mention in the best possible way. Also, on all the questions you receive on any of your Social Media accounts, you should answer. People like to know that you care for their opinion, or that you are solving the problem they are having with your company. Especially be careful when it comes to negative reviews or comments. They can easily lead to crisis. The role of your community manager is tremendous here.
What to do if crisis appears anyway?
You can work hard to prevent a crisis, but sometimes it is just not enough. The crucial is to be prepared when that moment comes. First of all, accept that crisis is here and you have to deal with it. The more you ignore it, the worse situation will become.
Now, when you are aware of the crisis, deal with it. For a start, stay calm, and as soon as possible, call for a meeting with your crisis management team. Explain the situation and try to find with your team the best possible solution. Be sure to arrange the way you will communicate that new situation in public. It is crucial to offer an explanation to the public, or at least let them know that you are working on it. Also, it is important to create a crisis plan for that precise situation. Assign duties to all members of your team with a clear explanation who is in charge in what area, with a clear goal and all the relevant details. Keep in mind that your crisis management team should function perfectly because there is no time for repairs.
Be prepared for uncomfortable questions, especial from the journalists; they are always ready to investigate the whole story, so, keep them posted. Try to play their role and prepare for all those tricky questions. Ask yourself, what would you like to know, what would you ask in that situation. But, the most important, stay consistent.
Community managers should be prepared too. Your Social Media are your first line of defense. The Board should share with them all the relevant information, because, when it comes to a crisis, everyone first checks up the information on Social Media. Negative comments will appear for sure. So, Community Manager should be ready to answer all those comments and questions with patience. Consistency should be their guiding principletoo.
Every crisis is a chance to learn
As we have already mentioned, some crisis you can predict, some of them you can’t. The most important is to be prepared all the time, to have a team of experts who will be able to react, no matter what happens, and no matter when it happens. Every crisis situation, small, as well as huge ones, will bring some new moments, new experiences you haven’t had before. Use that. Always try to experience the crisis as a new challenge. Give your best to learn as much as you can, and implement that knowledge and expertise in future business.
When the crisis is gone, and your business managed to survive, give yourself an effort and make a detailed analyze. Find out what was the cause of the crisis and how it has occurred. Call for a meeting again and gather everyone who was involved in solving the crisis. Take a good look at the facts. What exactly had happened, whether it could be prevented and how? When you manage to collect all that information in one place, make sure that every member of your team had acquired a new knowledge and facts and the most important, that they are ready to use it to prevent similar situations in the future.