To effectively navigate a crisis scenario, companies must have a clear response plan to react promptly and honestly, and learn from their mistakes.
Today’s guest post is by Thomas Mustac, Publicist — Otter PR
Crises come in all shapes and sizes for businesses, but no matter how big or small, an organization will be overwhelmed if they have not adequately planned how to approach the crisis. Formulating a crisis response plan is one of the most important steps a business leader must take, as this will allow them to not only weather the crisis, but also walk away improved from the lessons they learned.
Everyone knows that time is not on the side of an organization facing a crisis, but few realize there are ways to use time to their advantage. In the face of a crisis, a business leader must consider the role of time in the public’s perception of the company and its crisis response. How long did it take to respond to the crisis — did it take too long, or did it seem like a knee-jerk reaction? Was the response too brief, too long-winded, or just right? And what is the timeline for the company to implement these changes? Considering these essential questions when crafting a crisis response plan will allow a business to reclaim precious time and maintain favor in the eyes of the general public.
Gaining control over a crisis
Often, a company does not have time to formulate a proper crisis response after the crisis hits. Businesses that have not prepared will find themselves scrambling, frequently getting overwhelmed and responding in a way that makes the situation worse.
Canny business leaders realize the intense timeline of a crisis and prepare a crisis response plan early in their organization’s life cycle. Although it is impossible to plan for every obstacle that will come one’s way, it is possible to create a generalized, strategic approach to crises that can be adapted to the unique circumstances of each situation.
Ultimately, a business’s crisis response plan aims to gain control over the narrative by letting the public know it has control over the situation and is working to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Although no organization will have all the answers right away — and even if they do, it would seem suspicious — business leaders should strive to have enough answers to satiate the public’s chief concerns. If they don’t have the answers, it’s better to acknowledge this and explain that answers are in progress than to make something up that will later be exposed as a lie.
One of the most important characteristics an organization and its spokespeople must exhibit in the face of a crisis is honesty. In today’s increasingly connected and online world, it’s easier than ever for the public to find information. Chances are, if a company lies about something, someone will figure it out, and when the lie is uncovered, the situation will only worsen. Trust is difficult to build — much less rebuild — but lying is the quickest way to lose it.
Lessons learned from a crisis
Beyond honesty, businesses that hope to navigate a crisis successfully must also exhibit transparency and authenticity. If a crisis response is filled with empty promises of change and the company makes the same mistake again, the business will quickly lose consumers’ trust. Although consumers are quick to forgive and forget a mistake these days because of their shorter attention spans, companies that do not learn from their mistakes earn themselves a bad reputation — often one that is extremely difficult to overcome.
Another error companies can make when handling a crisis is over-apologizing. If a company continues to say sorry throughout its crisis response, it is not only admitting to the public that a wrong has been committed, but also continuing to point the focus towards the problem rather than the solution. While a company should acknowledge the situation in an initial crisis response, further steps should emphasize how the company will avoid a similar crisis in the future.
A major crisis is one of the scariest times in an entrepreneur’s career, but there are a few qualities to keep in mind that can help business leaders help their organizations successfully navigate these uncertain waters. By staying on top of time, maintaining composure, remaining honest, and focusing on the solution rather than the problems, the crisis will pass, and the leader and organization will grow with lessons learned.
Thomas Mustac is Otter PR‘s medical and health industry PR specialist. He previously held positions at the “Dr. Oz Show” and New York Medical College. He has his Master’s Degree from Iona College and received an Advanced Certification in Nonprofit Public Relations. He has a diverse background in healthcare, pharmaceutical, telehealth, tech, cosmetics, sports, and interior design public relations.
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