When Crisis Hits: Three Ways to Take Action

When Crisis Hits: Three Ways to Take Action

By Jessica Yost, Social Media Coordinator

This has been a heavy week with the 16th anniversary of 9/11, as well as the news of all the devastation left in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These are real crises.

In the public relations world, we often discuss crisis communications. While these “crises” are often vastly different from natural disasters and terrorism, they can send potentially business-ending ripples throughout the current of a company’s structure.

One recent example of a public relations crisis comes from the sports world, where the Atlanta Braves blasted the song “Rock You Like a Hurricane” during a game with the Miami Marlins. While this was an oversight, it came off as unbelievably insensitive since the state was bracing for a hurricane of epic proportions.

When a communications crisis hits, the response always depends on the situation and must be carefully crafted. However, allow me to offer three universal tips that will hopefully make the situation more palatable.

  1. Fill the Void

When a crisis hits, it is imperative to acknowledge awareness of the issue. This does not mean necessarily issuing an apology, but your stakeholders must know that you are working towards a solution. Otherwise, you risk rumors running your narrative instead of your own messaging.

  1. Be Honest and Authentic

After the crisis has been sorted out, this is the time to be open with your stakeholders. If you are in the wrong, apologize. If not, be clear about what happened and what you are doing to not only amend the situation, but also keep it from happening again. Whatever the appropriate response, make sure it comes from the heart.

  1. Find a Resolution and Move Forward

This is the tricky part. On one hand, you want to forget the crisis ever happened. On the other, if it concerned a particularly sensitive issue, you do not want to seem like you are back to “business as usual” while others are still recovering. Depending on the situation, I would suggest having the CEO write a message addressing the issue and what has been done to amend it; create appropriate graphics and link the letter in social feeds; then, as time goes on, incrementally fade out updates.

A public relations crisis does not have to mean the end of your brand, but it does take a delicate touch to accurately address the situation. For more insights, this is a fantastic article where several industry leaders discuss their best practices in a crisis situation.

Obviously, the best way to avoid a crisis is to be as vigilant as possible and have a crisis communication plan in place should the need for one arise. If you have questions about developing a crisis communication strategy for your business, do not hesitate to contact me at Jessica@Germono.com.

Jessica Yost
Jessica@Germono.com