Spoiler alert: YES.

Crises don’t come with a fair warning; they hit when they’re least expected. Preparing for crises in advance is a necessity for every company as it impacts the company’s reputation. Address a crisis as soon as you can. Otherwise, it could have long-term repercussions for your brand. 

The Problem

Your company is doing well, but you’re facing an issue. Is your product or service failing to provide a desirable function, are you receiving irate customer reviews, or have you employed an ex-worker who is eager to reveal his unpleasant experience? Do you believe the problem will disappear? 

The Solution

Prepare.

Act.

Recover.

Let’s dive into these three stages of crisis management communication.

Stage 1: Prepare

Before a crisis, organisations must prepare by creating the necessary groundwork for an effective response and maintaining trust. During the Preparation phase, organisations proactively identify high-likelihood crisis scenarios and develop plans for managing them. 

What types of behaviours can spark a crisis

The result of a management decision (or indecision) without adequate foresight is often the cause of a blazing crisis. Whether it is altering company structure, such as layoffs or neglecting to address negative customer comments, smouldering crises are almost always triggered by missteps in communications. 

There are some warning signs, including:

  • Product failures or customer dissatisfaction;
  • Insensitive or out-of-touch comments on acute social topics;
  • Disgruntled employees working against you; 
  • Media choir – an event rarely stays solely on a single media.
Is it possible to predict a crisis via AI

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science. This is the reality in our business today. The industry will continue that course. There’s no doubt that data will be the key ingredient for business transformation in the future. Once generated, it powers deeper business insights and helps companies make better decisions.” – Philip Manev, Account manager at A Data Pro

Emergency notification system (ENS) technology can benefit from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). They are adept at capturing a wide range of data inputs and then making predictions and emergency recommendations. They can also be used in crisis communications systems to provide value to emergency message delivery. 

The key word, again, is monitoring.

Find out more about our media intelligence reports.

 

Stage 2: Act

During this phase, strategic communication plays an important role in providing credible and timely information to keep stakeholders informed. Those organisations that communicate with authentic, transparent, and consistent messages are more likely to maintain their brand perception and keep loyal customers, employees, and partners because they are more likely to build trust. 

Lightning-Fast Crises

The pace of emerging crises has increased thanks to digital technology. When a disaster strikes, it unfolds rapidly. Outrage, rumour, hearsay, and grievances travel at lightning speed on the internet, thanks to social media and the news cycle. Even when you can’t fully comprehend what has occurred or is taking place, releasing a brief statement can have a major impact. 

RULE #1: Respond promptly

There is no need to panic, but you should act quickly, even in the best of times, as more than three-quarters of consumers expect brands to respond to negative comments or concerns within 24 hours. In a crisis, it is even more crucial to be quick to respond. 

Crisis Scenario Examples

The fire is burning. Now what?

The best-case scenario is to have a set of guidelines used to prepare a business for an emergency or unexpected event. Crisis communication plans focus on the company’s response.

Financial
loss

Example: Bankruptcy or store closures

Solution: Explain why the budget restructuring is necessary and how it will save jobs or shareholder value.

Personnel changes

Example: Affecting operations or reputation

Solution: Apologies for the actions of the individual, reiterate company values, and state the consequence.

Organisational practices

Example: Leading to wrongdoing

Solution: Apologise for the deception and state how the matter will be rectified.

Technological failure

Example: outages causing reduced functionality or functionality loss

Solution: State awareness of the problem, apologise for the inconvenience, and explain that the resolution is underway.

Natural crisis

Example: anything that necessitates an announcement or change of procedure

Solution: Apologise for disruption and emphasise employee safety before a natural disaster.

Whatever the crisis, remember RULE #1: Respond promptly.

Stage 3: Recover

When businesses experience stability, they enter the Recovery phase. It gives you the opportunity to prepare better in advance, and to examine the different company’s policies.

Building a Better Crisis Communication Plan

The elements you should cover are:

Spokesperson

When your company makes a mistake, the best thing you can do is to apologise and be human. 

Proactive damage control

It is what you do to reduce or prevent the effects of a crisis before it occurs. 

Case escalation

Sometimes crises can be resolved on the individual level before they reach a viral tipping point.

Customer feedback

It allows you to spot major roadblocks before they escalate into a crisis. 

Crises are battled both in-person and online. So, your company needs a social media plan that can manage the digital buzz around your business. It includes:

  • Guidelines for identifying the type and magnitude of a crisis;
  • Roles and responsibilities for every department;
  • A communication plan for internal updates;
  • Up-to-date contact information for critical employees;
  • Any pre-approved external messages, images, or information;
  • A link to your social media policy;
  • Social listening. 

Monitoring brand mentions can give you some advanced warning of a surge in social activity. But if you really want to keep an eye out for a potential social media crisis, you should be monitoring social sentiment.

Find out more about our media intelligence reports. 

To Summarise

No matter if things are going well now, you should always prepare for a crisis to occur. 

The three stages of crisis management communication are:

1. Prepare.

2. Act.

3. Recover.

Crises don’t happen just on the front page. They occur every day, affect groups of all types, and come in different shapes and sizes. Proper crisis planning results in transparent communication, credibility, trust, and brand loyalty. Everything a business can dream of.