It’s human nature to operate on an “it can’t happen to me” attitude. However, as unfortunate as it is, there’s no one reading this blog that’s bulletproof. And that goes for your business as well.
Such is the case when we discuss organizational crisis situations. We all love to think that we will continue to grow our businesses day in and day out without a hiccup. It would be nice, right? And hopefully it will be the case. But any savvy business person will realize that it’s crucial we are prepared in the event that a crisis does occur. And being prepared means knowing how to respond.
Thoughts on Preparation
So how do you prepare? You need a crisis response plan. Some food for thought…
- Know who’s going to talk. You need a go-to person, and even a second and third, who is going to do the talking when trouble goes down. If no one knows who is supposed to do the talking, count on the wrong person to say the wrong thing.
- Plan to tell employees first. Nothing will kill your worker morale more than finding out bad news from outside sources. Make sure your employees are aware from the get go.
- Keep the plan simple. For a crisis plan to be effective, it needs to be easy to follow. Keep things simple and direct.
- Dust off the plan and review periodically. Your plan from 1985 probably isn’t relevant anymore. Make sure you review it on occasion and make necessary changes. And make sure your employees are well aware of the plan.
What Kind of Response Can You Make?
So how do companies respond in time of crisis? Here are a few examples I’ve seen in the past.
- “We’re sorry.” There are times to fight, and there are times to just “man” up and apologize. Rather than look defensive (which almost always implies guilt), it might be a better response to just say you screwed up and you’re sorry. It might not erase whatever went wrong, but it may appeal to the public’s human side—you know, “everyone makes mistakes!” The key here is making your apology seem believable.
- “We did what we had to do and we stand by our decision.” It’s a bad situation and quite regretful. But you did what you had to do—no apologies. And if you had to do it all over again, you would.
- “We have no comment at this time.” Not ready to respond? Then maybe you shouldn’t. No comment is pretty much the same as pleading the fifth—it’s your right. However, be careful here, as onlookers often equate pleading the fifth with guilt.
- “…”Some companies don’t even go as far as to say “no comment.” Instead, they simply don’t show up—they say nothing at all. Incredibly dangerous, but might work for you for a couple of days, depending on what the crisis actually is. But you can’t hide forever!
- “It’s not our place to comment on this, as it’s really a matter for _______ to discuss.” Yep, good ol’ human nature. Pass the blame off on someone else. And it’s not always a bad idea, if it really is something someone else should be responsible for. But again, this could leave you looking like a heel if you aren’t careful.
- “In reality, these allegations are a mere attempt for our competitors to do us harm.” Sometimes a quick offense is the best defense. Rather than sit back and take it on the chin, some companies come out with their dukes up, ready to uppercut the accusers. A good strategy only if you’re certain that allegations are false and that your competition is simply trying to smear your good name.
What Sort of Response Should You Make?
How you respond depends on the situation itself. In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to crisis management. But one thing’s for certain. You need to choose a plan of action and stick to it. And above all else, stay honest. The truth is always going to come out.
Are you prepared should your business face a crisis? How do you plan to respond?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here: http://www.ereleases.com/7cheaptactics.html