Companies never plan the perfect time for a crisis to emerge. Instead, crises come about when they are least expected. They can leave a company reeling, overwhelmed and sometimes in denial. If you and your company are not prepared with a plan to implement immediately, you will lose precious moments that should have been used to fix the problem sooner. When faced with a crisis for your company or client, take into account the tips below to ensure the end result is positive. At Oster and Associates, we have a proven track record of assisting clients with preparing for, or bouncing back from, any size disaster.
Anticipate and Prepare
Consider the situations in your company that could cause a crisis. Employee or customer injuries, environmental damages, theft, credit card breach, recalls and similar situations. Next, think of how these crises can be prevented. For example, implement more safety measures to avoid injuries, make sure all environmental standards are met and security measures are taken in physical establishments and with technology. Implement quality control standards to avoid recalls.
Some crises are planned, however. They can include layoffs and closings. Be prepared to address all affected parties including the media. People will want answers quickly and remaining silent or in denial about a crisis wastes crucial time and can lead to untrue claims and speculations.
Have a Plan
When a crisis arises, there is hardly time to discuss a purposeful, strategic, well-thought-out plan. Having one prepared beforehand ensures your organization can respond in a proactive, rather than reactive, matter.
For example, Organics Unlimited, a long-time client, wanted to create a way to help communities near its organic banana farms recover if a disaster should strike. Oster and Associates created a designated sub-fund within its GROW program that can be used in multiple stages of disaster relief, such as immediate response – providing food, water and medical treatment quickly after a catastrophe – or long-term, such as rebuilding schools and homes. This allows Organics Unlimited to take immediate action in the event of a natural disaster.
Other strategies include having press release templates, appropriate media contact information and established media spokespeople on hand.
Assign Specific Duties
Preparing a group and their roles before a crisis hits is a good preventative measure in any crisis.
Begin by creating a dream team of crisis communication team members that will implement the plan. Keep it a small group, so ideas remain concise, including the highest-ranking positions in the group with PR and communication managers, risk management directors, a CFO and legal representatives. Create a list with contact information for all team members, their specific roles and their additional roles if a team member is absent. Establish who will speak to the media, who will manage social media, who will take general phone calls and inquiries and who will draft any talking points or speeches.
Tell the Truth
We’ve all heard “the truth will set you free,” and it pertains to acting in a crisis, too. Beat anyone else to the punchline with the full, honest details of the crisis. The truth will come out eventually if there’s any effort to cover up the situation, so it’s better to own the crisis upfront. Crisis cover up attempts can result in another crisis when the rest of the news comes out, or worse, a damaged reputation.
Use the Crisis to Promote your Brand
If your company isn’t in the middle of a crisis but can offer support to those affected by one, let your name be known. In the wake of the May 2015 firestorms and in the midst of a drought, Oster client Armstrong Garden Centers saw an opportunity to educate consumers on fire abatement techniques. Because wildfires are unpredictable, it was important that a plan is in place for when the weather changed and fires were likely to rapidly generate. Oster and Associates prepared a press release and distribution list in advance and, when wildfire conditions arrived, the release was sent, resulting in multiple news stories aimed at protecting consumers’ property before wildfires begin. Not only did this provide timely tips to homeowners on how to keep their homes and loved ones safe, it also elevated Armstrong Garden Centers’ image as an expert on gardening and lawn care.
Does your company have an updated crisis communication plan in place? If not, we can help your business create one that addresses your specific concerns based on your type of business and audience. Visit us at www.osterads.com or call 619-906-5540 to get in touch with us.
About Oster and Associates
Founded in 1986, Oster and Associates is a full-service branding and public relations agency with local and national clients in the accounting, agriculture, engineering, hospitality, landscaping, nonprofit, planning, produce and travel industries. For more information on Oster and Associates, visit www.osterads.com, call 619-906-5540 or follow them on Facebook, Twitter @OsterAds and LinkedIn.