Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and many organizations plan to update their crisis management strategies in 2012. That’s a great idea in this world of instant information and potential misinformation about a difficult or embarrassing situation happening at your organization.
Here are a five things to minimize the negative impact and perhaps even turn something into a positive in a new or updated crisis management plan that meets today’s advanced communications challenges.
1. Identify potential crisis. Consider the services you provide and to whom, the inherent risks associated with your industry, your employee base, location, and any judgments that have been levied against your organization. These are all minefields for you to navigate.
2. Chose your spokespeople and have them media trained. Who will speak for the organization? It should be limited to one or no more than two people. However, anyone who might need to be involved in an interview, such as key senior management and/or specific board members, should be trained on how to speak to the media. A good trainer will discuss how to stay on topic, what key points to make and how to make them, ways to minimize nervousness and how to listen for hidden agendas.
3. Consider the power of photography. As you consider the crisis that might arise, also consider what photographic or video image you would want to project to the news media. Create a plan that could match a photographic image to a crisis in a more positive light. The image used by the press initially is usually the image that remains throughout the story coverage.
4. Outside influences. Your plan is only as good as you are able to avoid misinformation . Your current and former employees and customers, residents, families and vendors might all have an opinion to share with the media. Communicate with them as early as possible. Nothing can stop a “man on the street” interview, a Facebook post or Twitter Tweet, so your constituents should know first about your situation, position and actions being taken.
5. Messaging. Nothing is more important than the message — whether it is verbal or non-verbal. As soon as a crisis occurs, call in the key people to discuss the situation. During that discussion, it is most important to think about how the victims and their families and friends are going to interpret the crisis. If you can keep that in mind, you are more likely to understand what the message should be: factual, compassionate, simple, consistent and with a swift and manageable resolution.
For more information about Crisis and Reputation Management, call IVY Marketing Group at 630-790-2531.