Suffering from a Nashville public relations snafu? Learn three tactics that can help manage any crisis; then find out how to plan ahead for specific crisis situations.
Today when people hear that a business or organization faced a crisis, thoughts usually go straight to social media: they think it must have been a tweet or Facebook post that blew up and went viral. While social media can greatly contribute to a crisis, many crises don’t start on social. They snowball there. So if there has been a customer service snafu offline, for example, the fallout may escalate incredibly once the wronged parties decide to post about it on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
Let’s review a step by step process for dealing with a crisis. And before we do that; let’s define what a crisis is.
Google the word “crisis” and you get two interesting definitions:
“A time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger” and “A time when a difficult or important decision must be made.”
When a crisis happens, both of those points come into play. The natural fight or flight response kicks in, and if not properly checked, panic mode will ensue. Some organizations plan ahead and have an internal crisis management group selected that will be ready to jump into action, if needed. Other businesses and entities perform with on-the-fly crisis response. If that is the case, best practices can be put in place that can minimize the damage from a crisis and help protect the brand. It all starts with knowing what to do first after a crisis hits.
The Crisis Begins – What Needs to Be Done First?
So how should a crisis be managed? Specifically, what immediate action steps should be taken to contain it, then turn the tide so positive news dominates the narrative?
These three steps can help keep an issue from spiraling out of control. They make the problem more manageable and give principals the right things to say and do, ensuring that the public knows that swift actions are being taken to correct the issue.
Let’s examine a crisis at a hypothetical Nashville business:
Acme Soda Company has received several complaints of soda that has a strange chemical taste – three people have been sickened so far. The Acme crisis team had to act fast to assure the public that they were working on a solution to the problem. Here’s how they handled the issue, with step-by-step actions that defused the situation and demonstrated their commitment to fixing the problem.
1) Acme stepped up and acknowledged the issue immediately. They didn’t ignore it, or blame anyone else. The crisis team didn’t want to make any erroneous statements, so the first response they made when the problem surfaced was: “We understand several individuals have reported possible contamination of our soda. We are taking this situation seriously and our investigative team and safety experts are conducting a full internal investigation.”
2) Once the problem was identified, Acme kept its customers informed on the steps they were taking to correct it as well as additional preventative measures that were being implemented. Acme released a statement the next morning as it wanted to be transparent and provide its customers with an update on the issue and the steps being taken to rectify the situation. Acme drafted this statement with assistance from its Nashville PR firm, which helped Acme communicate their action steps to the media and public.
3) Acme found that a faulty manufacturing process (a machine broke down, and accidentally caused the soda contamination) was at the root of the problem. The company again worked with its Nashville public relations firm to ensure that the public knew that it was replacing the faulty machinery immediately, and that additional product safety inspectors would be dispatched across the plant, ensuring tighter quality control. This information was communicated via a press release that was posted on the Acme website, on its blog, and on its social media channels. The CEO of the company was interviewed by local media and the interview was posted on Facebook and on Acme’s website.
Key Crisis Response Takeaways: Acknowledge, Stay Visible, Communicate with the Public
The above three steps took the Acme company several weeks to complete. The important part to note is that Acme immediately acknowledged the issue, took responsible action and proactively communicated the steps being taken to prevent it from occurring again. The company didn’t shy away from the public eye; it was highly visible and took the advice of its Nashville PR firm to:
- Acknowledge the issue
- Take responsible action
- Communicate an action plan
- Carry out the action plan in a timely manner
- Put in place safeguards or new processes to prevent the problem from happening again
Learn How to Plan for Crises
Every crisis is different, and will require a specific response. Acknowledgment, taking responsible action, and following through on action plans offers the most effective way to navigate a crisis. While some crises cannot be foreseen, many situations can be prepared for, or avoided. McKeeman Communications recommends creating a crisis management plan that can be put into action whenever necessary.
Discover McKeeman’s Crisis Management Approach: Get a Free 60 Minute Consultation
McKeeman Communications offers a free 60 minute consultation that can help your company or organization explore crisis management techniques. With our more than 20 years of experience working with one of the world’s biggest franchise brands (among many other local and national clients), McKeeman offers an action-oriented approach to clear communication. We can assist Nashville businesses, nonprofits and other groups with crisis planning, crisis management, and dealing with the aftermath of a crisis. We work as partners with our clients, stepping into their shoes; so we can help them develop messaging for crisis situations and the everyday moments that build their brands.
Get in touch with McKeeman Communications today to schedule your free consultation.