In order to avoid confusion and mixed messages, it’s important to select a single spokesperson to communicate with the outside world during a crisis. Ensure that every single member of staff knows this, and understands why. If this can be communicated well ahead of time, then when a crisis does begin to stir, all members of staff will know what to do.
In order to make the process as clear as possible, it’s wise to document this information and ensure it is distributed, explained and role-played consistently. Ensure that your chosen spokesperson understands their role well, and that they have been given enough preparation to conduct their response calmly and quickly.
Silence is not an option
The very worst thing a business can do in a crisis is to keep quiet. For some reason, many companies default to saying nothing rather than speaking up during times of crises. This is completely backwards. By staying silent, a gap is formed for onlookers to fill with whatever rhetoric they choose to believe.
Even if you don’t believe your company is directly at fault, there’s no telling what the outside world believes. Either way, it’s always best to set the record straight in your own words, before Twitter threads and media outlets can do it for you.
It can also be helpful to have a stock statement prepared, which can be adapted to suit the situation. Try writing different statements for different audiences, such as current customers, the wider media and your business’s key stakeholders.
If you still don’t feel comfortable planning all of this on your own, consider hiring a crisis management support team, who can explain how to word statements and offer support during a crisis.
Communication is key
Of course, some circumstances call for more than a single written statement or apology. In some cases, you will need to set up multiple communication channels to respond to concerns.
Social media, traditional media, email and even text messages are all great ways to provide regular updates to those affected. Once an issue has been resolved, you can also use these channels to give assurances that you’ve done everything you can do make sure the issue doesn’t happen again.
Ultimately, no matter how much preparation you do, there’s usually no way to predict a crisis. But by laying the groundwork as much as possible ahead of time, you should be able to turn an epic disaster into a manageable issue that can be resolved quickly. And when you’re staring a crisis in the face, that’s the best scenario you could hope for.