Crisis communication and management have become an integral part of any business, regardless of size or market. An increasing number of business owners are putting in resources to implement specific communication strategies in dealing with unforeseen events. 

What may seem like a simple problem, in the beginning, could harm the brand or its reputation in the market. But crisis communication isn’t that very easy to figure out. First things first: what is crisis communication?

Let’s begin.

Table of contents

What Is Crisis Communication?

Before you think of a solution, you must first understand the problem. A crisis communication plan refers to the effort that the company makes to communicate to its target public. It involves the decision to admit to a mistake and do something to correct it. 

When a disruptive event occurs, it could negatively affect the reputation of the business. Although most of those who need good crisis communication skills are those in the economic sector, any organisation or institution could fall victim to an unfortunate circumstance.

A crisis can be defined as something technological, financial, organisational, or natural. As long as it puts the organisation at risk, something needs to be done to save the brand. It is what truly defines crisis communication. 

Learning how to write a crisis communication plan should be an integral part of any business plan. No business should ever go without it. 

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Why Is Crisis Communication Important?

Natural disasters, change in management, irregularity in production, and lawsuits could put the company in a volatile situation. It can happen at any given time too. 

In all these cases, a company could surely benefit from having an organisational crisis communication plan in place. In particular, the company could:

  • Provide protection to their employees as well as their stakeholders 
  • Restore the trust and confidence of their consumers
  • Prevent the spread of rumours that could be detrimental to their branding
  • Avoid Panic
  • Make clients feel safe with them
  • Build on the loyalty of customers
  • Prevent any threat that could put the reputation and viability of the company in jeopardy
  • Align all the internal and external communications to provide immunity to the brand

However, if the company fails to put crisis communication strategies in place, its damage might become irreparable. The effects on their branding, as well as their relationship to their target clients, might be relatively huge.

The company will earn another reputation, and it won’t be anything pleasant. Stakeholders may think you are inept or that the management is irresponsible. Worse, they could think you couldn’t care less. 

More than anything, a crisis in communication could turn a reputation problem into someone hugely financial. 

What do you do about it? How you deal with the crisis at hand will reveal a lot about your brand and its management. Your actions, as well as your words amid a crisis, are what will make your clients stay to support you. 

It could also be the reason why they would lose their trust in you and wouldn’t want to have anything to do with you. 

How Do You Create An Effective Crisis Plan?

Crisis Communication Planning

When it comes to dealing with a crisis, there are two necessary crisis communication frameworksand responses that companies usually take. They can choose to take on the crisis head-on, or they could choose to plan for what could unfold because of the crisis. 

The first response is undoubtedly more reactive than the second, but it also puts the company in a position wherein they are not in control. In this given scenario, the company is likely to oversight what could happen next and misinterpret how the public is reacting, making them more vulnerable to committing errors. 

On the other hand, a more planned approach to target what could unfold because of the crisis could limit the management’s decision. With careful planning and the right tools, the company could very well respond to the criticisms and are more likely to save itself from a downfall. 

Here are some tools that a company could use in planning for a crisis:

Anticipate a crisis and react accordingly.

Although the very nature of a crisis is an unforeseen circumstance, it is entirely possible for any company to take a few steps ahead and plan on a proper response. The key to all goodcrisis communication plans is for the company to anticipate a problem. 

They can successfully navigate a difficult situation by taking time to think about what could go wrong. Doing this even before an unfortunate event happens is not about being pessimistic. After all, in business, you always have to assume the worst. 

Look into the vulnerability of the business. In what aspects does the business need extra protection? Identify who the right spokesperson is, who will write the press releases and who needs to prepare for a media interview. 

Doing so will not only help you create a coherent discourse, but it could identify relevant tools when the problem occurs, and action needs to be taken. 

Prepare a crisis communication plan.

In an emergency situation, the public’s interest must always come before the organisation’s interest. Simply put, the primary responsibility of managing crisis communication should always be to provide protection for the utmost safety of the stakeholders involved. 

Start by analysing the severity of the situation. Then, identify the position that the business will take in order to deal with it. Never underestimate a given situation. Hoping that nobody would notice it is always a bad thought to bank on. 

Always opt for a positive response to a given crisis, focusing all attention on advancing the process and resolving the problem. Reassure the public by providing them with reliable information. When you choose to keep your silence, do not be too surprised if somebody else would speak on your behalf. 

Always be consistent with the organisation’s message.

Every goodcrisis communication management planspeaks of consistency. Work on developing key messages in response to a crisis. The whole team must send the same message in every unique emergency situation. 

This key message is a good starting point for a crisis management plan. Gather ideas that speak of apology yet promote potential healing. Make sure it includes the following:

  • An explanation as to why the crisis occurred
  • A brief overview of what transpired
  • Information as to the stand of the company
  • Solutions that will be implemented to address the situation
  • Suggestions for protection

Choose the right spokesperson.

When your business commits a mistake, the best way to deal with it is to apologise. The most effective way to do this is to appoint the right spokesperson who will speak on your brand’s behalf. 

The obvious choice would be the CEO of the company, but it also is someone who can best represent the company. Choose someone who communicates very well, as this could affect how your stakeholders will react to the situation. 

Choose someone who can bring humanity into his speeches, making it seem as if the mistakes are manageable, provided they get continued support from their audience.

Then, consider the possible means you can send this message to the public. Apart from the usual press release, you may consider tapping social media to spread the word. 

representative of a company speaking to the press

Always favour transparency over anything. 

What is the best way to be transparent? Provide the public with the information that you know. When you don’t know anything about what they are asking, be honest about it and promise that you will look into it.

This is the simplest way to keep your audience’s trust in you. If you fail to convince them, you don’t only lose clients, and they will be leaving without any trust in you. 

Do you share negative information? Yes, you do. Make sure that it gives you the advantage to see things from a perspective. 

Keep in mind that consumers only want to be reassured that their products are safe and effective. Being able to provide consumers with a trustworthy explanation as to why doubts of the safety of their products have surfaced should very well demonstrate the company’s innocence. 

Being transparent means letting your clients know the truth. If a mistake was made or a breach in the protocols happened, then admit to it. This does not mean defeat. Instead, this means taking responsibility for what happened and doing something about it. 

What Is Your Takeaway?

Once the crisis is over, you must assess the efficiency of the crisis communication plan you employed. Did it work effectively? Has the whole plan been executed, right? What could you have done differently?

An assessment of the output aims to improve the whole process. Any help from a crisis management expert always proves to be strategic. When a problem puts your business brand and image at risk, go all out to protect it. 

After all, the brand you established did not happen overnight. For sure, you want to do all that you can to protect it by all means possible. Find the best branding agencies to help you with your crisis communication plan today.