By its very nature a business crisis gives rise to stress and confusion, with very little time for consideration, uncertain information and unpredictable outcomes as the situation evolves. If managed poorly, such a situation can result in damage to the organisation’s reputation and financial bottom line. However, if some planning and preparation is undertaken to safeguard the organisation from these risks, the chance of mitigating these poor outcomes is improved.
It’s rarely possible to exert sufficient influence over all internal and external factors to prevent or fully control a business crisis, however good planning and strong communication protocols will allow the organisation to react quickly and appropriately in managing the situation. The following tips can assist in planning and preparing for possible business crises:
- Develop strong communications protocols – ensure contact details are identified and documented for all relevant (internal and external) stakeholders, and that good relationships are maintained with personnel (including backup personnel) designated to undertake the various critical and non-critical communication tasks during a crisis.
- Identify potential risks – regularly undertake formal risk management processes to identify any potential risks to the organisation that could become the source of business crises, and take steps to mitigate these.
- Establish a crisis team – and appoint alternates as well. Train and rehearse these people, and ensure everyone in the organisation knows who is responsible for what during a crisis.
- Designate spokespeople – and provide them with training in handling crises and dealing with the media.
- Put a plan in place – including key contact details, required response processes, responsibilities, media lists, template media releases, etc.
- Prioritise proactive communication – recognise the importance of regularly updating both internal and external stakeholders throughout a crisis, as this assists to control the situation and maximise confidence and cooperation.
- Be truthful – when information is not available or insufficiently clear, avoid providing what may later be identified as wrong information, but instead indicate what’s being done to find the answers and when they are expected.
- Provide clarification – quickly correct and clarify any circulating information which you know to be wrong.
- Manage social media channels – the first place most stakeholders will look for information is online, so ensure resources are in place to respond swiftly, accurately and reassuringly to issues being raised via these channels.
- Consider reputation restoration strategies – give thought to how the organisation’s reputation might be rebuilt after a crisis, including communication of the source of the problem, prevention strategies, etc.
Suffering a business crisis will usually be a challenging time for any organisation, however with some planning and preparation including the above tips, the organisation can have more confidence that they will successfully weather the storm.
Please contact QRMC for more information or assistance.