The Burson-Martseller (BM) incident this past week, if your head was stuck in the sand: BM drug itself into bed with Facebook in order to attempt to sabotage the name of Google, brings the topic of crisis communication to the top of many’s minds.
There are three types of crises:
1. Immediate – an immediate crisis is one that is presently happening.
2. Emerging – an emerging crisis is a crisis that you can foresee the problem… well emerging.
3. Sustained – a sustained crisis is a crisis that is an ongoing issue for a company.
The stages of crises are important to note when a crisis sneaks up on you. Should you have seen this coming? Has this been an issue and now the issue is being highlighted? Or did this just happen? Each of these are important to identify to properly address a crisis. However, it is important to remember a few general rules to keep you grounded during a crisis situation.
1. Be honest. Especially if you had lied. This will make things worse. If you’ve already been identified as a liar best to not keep at it, you’ll just dig yourself a deeper hole.
2. Respond in a timely manner. This means, no “no comment”‘s allowed. Depending on which means you are receiving feedback (i.e., social media, traditional media) you have slightly different time lines to keep your response “quick.”
3. Ensure that you have consistent messaging. Have or create pre-approved messaging so that the manager of the Twitter account per say can respond within minutes while upholding positive open messaging.
4. Remember that “this too shall pass.” When it’s all said and done, people are going to remember your embarrassing moment. How do you want them to remember how you handled the crisis?
Remember that things will happen that are out of your control. What is in your control is how you prepare for them and how you handle them. Here is a blog from a PR firm that specializes in crisis management for some additional tips. What are your tips for crisis management?