Why Your Company Should Have a Crisis Communications Plan
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Setback or Success? It depends on the plan you have (or don’t) in place.
When the unlikely trio of Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill gathered to form what would eventually become the United Nations, Churchill famously quipped, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
It was the end of the second World War and the British Prime Minister was pointing out the proverbial silver lining — the tragedies of the war ultimately created the desire for unity and formed what is now the largest international peacekeeping force on the planet.
While Churchill made the statement soon after a massive global crisis, the intent can be applied to any predicament. Big or small, a crisis presents opportunities where they didn’t exist before. But in order to find these ‘bright-side’ opportunities, and capitalize on them, a crisis communications plan is essential. Every company – no matter the size – should have one, and here are five reasons why:
A crisis at your company is a matter of when, not if.
A crisis doesn’t always leave a trail of death and destruction. It’s a sudden and usually unexpected event that requires an immediate response — and the consequences of responding in the wrong way can be dire. A lawsuit, lost revenue, reputation damage, consumer activism, and decreased employee morale are all possible outcomes. It only takes one upset customer posting a destructive review on their social media to initiate a crisis. It’s best to be ready.
Employees are waiting and watching.
People want to work for a company they’re proud of and for leadership they trust. How you respond to a crisis will determine how many employees will still be with you on the other side of it. If your employees are left in the dark, you’re subconsciously telling them they aren’t an important stakeholder, and that makes them more likely to question the company’s ethos and seek other employment. Having a crisis communications plan ensures your employees are informed and involved in the process.
Your customers are also waiting and watching.
Leaving your employees uninformed is bad. Doing the same to your customers is equally as terrible — and they’re far more likely to voice their outrage publicly. When you have a crisis communications plan, you’ll remember when and how often you need to explain to your customers how you’re handling the situation and what you’re doing to remedy it. As a bonus, you’re likely to avoid becoming the next #badbusiness Twitter trend.
When there’s a lack of communication, people create their own narrative.
In a crisis you’re likely dealing with intense emotions and deep conflicts – and that’s often when people assume the worst. A crisis communications plan helps you mitigate the fear, panic, and uncertainty that breeds rumors and speculation. Communication will always evolve during a crisis, but it’s important to get in front of the story and control the narrative.
Your screw up won’t be silent.
A lot of brands have made this mistake: The masses are mad and are posting their fury on the company’s social media pages, and suddenly the comment section disappears. Not only is this a wrong resolution, it also escalates the problem dramatically. Organized protests, third-party review sites, and screenshots of your company’s attempt to pretend ‘there’s nothing to see here,’ are longer lasting and far more damaging. A crisis communications plan will help you avoid making a bad situation even worse.
Now that you’re convinced you need a crisis communications plan, what’s next? KNB Communications can help you put a plan in place. Give us a call today!