Crisis planning should never involve guess work
At activ Digital Marketing we love a good quote, and we all agree that Churchill got this one spot on ‘He who fails to plan is planning to fail’ and this also couldn’t be more true in the event of a PR crisis.
Dealing with many clients and franchisees across varying sectors and industries means there is always potential for errors to occur. The more individuals involved, the higher the chance of these errors occurring and you throw the immediacy of story sharing- on social media channels and news channels- into the mix and you can see how an error that may only have started off small could escalate and do huge damage to a brands reputation.
That is why we at activ recommend that each business and individual has a crisis PR plan in place.
Plan of Action
Responding quickly is key to limiting damage and preventing a situation from getting out of control and escalating unnecessarily. Crisis communication requires strategic preparation before you need it.
The main aim in a crisis is to regain control of the narrative and this requires planning.
Outline specific contingency plans for industry threats- Perhaps you have a client that deals within the entertainment sector and travel and weather may be a threat to events. Potential scenarios can be factored into a specific plan for that business- what if the main train line to the venue was cut off due to major track issues, perhaps a strong relationship with local coach companies could mean event goers are able to board the coaches at the train station and be taken directly to the venue. A nice idea but communicating this quickly and efficiently is the key to its success.
This is where technology is paramount. Key stakeholders ie. your ticket holder to the event, must be contacted immediately and the message must be clear and concise to ensure incorrect messaging is buried, for example, ‘The Gig is Cancelled Because Trains Won’t Run’, quick responding flips that right round to ‘Local Coach Company Ensure Revellers Don’t Miss Gig’.
Technology is a gift and a curse in this situation and it’s integral to get ahead of the whispers, by having a PR Crisis plan in place that clarifies the facts and dismisses any rumours means your business will stay one step ahead and avert the crisis.
You can create a plan for potential crisis PR situations in a calm and pragmatic way, which is almost impossible if you wait for the crisis to occur before beginning to think about actions. When emergencies occur, emotions run high and decision making is compromised. Thinking ahead to potential threatening scenarios, enables the business to have a plan should a situation arise. Whilst circumstances might not be exact to the scenario planned for, you can guarantee that working with a calmly thought through plan that may just need some adjustments, is a much stronger stand point, than running with that adrenaline and quite possibly not making strategic decisions.
Who speaks to the media if an enquiry comes through to Head Office- having a nominated spokesperson means other employees feel in control knowing who to re-direct calls to and prevents the enquirer getting inconsistent information from well-meaning employees trying to help but perhaps not having the full picture.
A strong social media policy is of paramount importance. We’ve spoken about the speed by which incorrect information can be circulated through technology and social media is the ‘gobbiest’ of them all! For example, will your social media platform feedback on specific comments? If so, who will do this? Make use of your social media to share factual content to address negative/false comments.
Having a plan will avert the disastrous consequences that a mishandled communications crisis can result in and will save a lot of stress and potential cost.
It makes more sense to take the time to plan for crisis PR than be in the uncomfortable and much more expensive scenario of having to hire a Crisis PR Agency after the fact.
Here at activ we can help with your crisis PR planning (and crisis PR management if your plans aren’t in place, no judgement) Get in contact with us https://www.activdigital.marketing/contact-us/ and we can discuss the right options for you as an individual or your business, whatever its size.