Crisis management is important in running any business. In most cases, business entrepreneurs are caught off-guard because they didn’t foresee a situation where they would have to actively defend their brand. In the contemporary business environment, things are even more complicated because easier flow of information also translates to more scrutiny by your customers.
Increased Business Scrutiny
Whether you are a small or big company, you have to appreciate the impact of internet technology on your business as this is where most crises emanate and it is also where they can be amicably resolved. When a crisis arises today, more people will know about it because the information is readily available online. With the advent of social media networks, more people are sharing information about different brands.
No business is safe from social media crises because users are now interconnected. In fact, sharing of real-time information makes things even more precarious for businesses. In 2013, for instance, Southwest Airlines faced a nightmare when their Flight 345 landed nose first in LaGuardia Airport.
Other big brands that have faced such crises which were fueled by social media include DNYK, Red Cross, JC Penney, Coca Cola, KitchenAid and Burger King among others. If such well heeled brands can face a crisis on social media, then small businesses face an even bigger challenge. There is no option of ignoring digital voices and your business has to be proactive in responding to any simmering media crisis.
Press Release in Handling Media Crisis
While there are many strategies that a business can use to handle a media crisis, press releases still remain the most popular option. A press release helps to deal with such high intensity situations which have the potential to ruin your investment. A cursory look at Domino’s latest social media crisis is evidence enough that your business has a lot to lose if there is no quick plan to bring things back to normal.
Press releases are popular in reputation management and crises management because they are easy to deploy and can be sent to the right channels in no time. If you are going to use a press release, it is important to do it right to avoid exacerbating an already bad situation.
Below is a PR secret strategy of handling media crisis which can be used for different situations:
- Get the Facts Right
During a fire, many things can go wrong. This is why firefighters don’t just rush into a burning building. They take time to collect facts from first respondents, the building engineers and other concerned parties. On the surface, it might look like they are wasting time yet these steps are necessary to ensure effective evacuation. The same applies to a press release during a media crisis; you should never send out a PR before you are fully aware of the details. Many businesses are forced to issue several press releases which are contradictory and this just fans the crisis. By learning all the facts, you will earn the trust of internet users who are following your brand and eventually, less damage will be done.
- Have a Media Crisis Plan in Place
What would you do if a customer filed a complaint about your product? Ask most business owners about this and you will get a blank. In most cases, business startups assume things will run smoothly as long as everyone does things right. However, in business, the unexpected always happens along the way and this is one reason why you should have a backup plan.
For instance, you need to know who will respond during crises as this guarantees uniformity and consistency in the messages sent out. For your press release strategy to work, consider the following:
- Who will make decisions during the crisis period?
- Which communication channel will be used?
- Who will make timely updates?
- What happens if key players are out?
- Respond Quickly and with Facts
When Domino’s dirty video appeared in 2009, the company’s CEO did not respond for 48 hours. The same situation applies to other brands such as Amy Baking Company and Burger King and the repercussions were costly. If you are serious about dealing with a media crisis, you must do so quickly, but make sure you get your facts right.
Never delete comments by users or try blocking users who post negative comments about your business. Don’t argue on threads and make sure you maintain your brand’s voice amidst the ongoing din. If you keep shifting your position, your customers will instantly notice and the backlash will come down hard.
- Keep Monitoring
There is a tendency by marketers to hibernate when the kitchen gets too hot. This is the worst strategy you can adopt. Once you have sent a press release, you need to monitor brand mentions surrounding your latest update. Keep up to date with the public sentiments as this will help shape your next message. It is important to evaluate the impact of your press release so far as this can help you know whether you need to change your strategy. If things are getting out of hand, you might even have call in a PR agency to get more help.
- Be Transparent
During a media crisis, the first casualty is always the truth. This can be devastating if your customers find out you are trying to wiggle out of a tricky situation by leading them up the garden path. The backlash will be costly and for this reason, crisis management experts exhort businesses to stick with the truth. It is difficult in most situations but your brand will win admirers by doing the right thing.
When an image of a Burger King employee standing in lettuce started doing rounds on the internet, the company did not go on the defensive but instead initiated a quick investigation, identified the offender and fired him in a span of 24 hours. All this time customers were kept up to date with the crisis management progress.
Social media crises are inevitable in a world where information access is seamless. As a business owner, you don’t have to fear crisis; rather, you should have a plan to deal with it comprehensively and make sure you learn from it. When dealing with such crises, make sure you stay calm, get all facts, and work with a streamlined plan. Your brand will come out of it stronger.