As a Yorkshire based PR agency that works as an extension of our clients’ teams, we are often required to access confidential information. In particular, when supporting businesses during times of crisis, we need as much detail as possible.
It is only when we have this level of insight that we can provide recommendations that will benefit a business. This might be uncomfortable for brands to share, but it is essential if we are to deliver the service and results that our clients have come to expect.
Don’t hide behind closed doors
Hiding behind closed doors and ‘keeping your head down’ during a crisis might seem like a good idea, but it isn’t. In our experience, there is rarely a benefit to giving a no comment to journalists. In fact, being as transparent and honest as possible is crucial.
That doesn’t mean that you share everything with everyone, just that you manage the process very carefully. Working with experts means that you can navigate the situation and ensure as little damage to your brand as possible.
There may be two sides to every story, however coming across as defensive or aggressive will not give the right impression. If we are honest, this will just lead people to make negative assumptions that could have a lasting impact on a company.
We always say that a business never expects a crisis, until it has a crisis!
Very few organisations want to think too deeply about what could go wrong. That said, scenario planning can be a great way to test and measure the robustness of the planning and processes you have in place.
Look at the obvious challenges that you could face as an organisation. Think about how you would respond should a journalist call, or a customer share negative feedback across social media. Are you prepared? Do you have the necessary processes in place? If not, you can expect to be caught like a rabbit in headlights.
Hitting the headlines for the right reasons
We are big believers at Open Comms in hitting the headlines for the right reasons. This gives our clients some balance, even when they do have a crisis. It’s never something that we want to see happen, but if we can counter negative press with positive then we are doing our job.
It may be that through good governance and careful planning we can avoid any negative PR at all, however in instances where that isn’t the case, we have the foresight to plan ahead. Having a strong schedule of positive stories means we have more good news in the market than bad.
On the occasions where we simply cannot avoid negative comment, we work hard to counteract this and to give a true opinion of the brands we deliver PR and content management strategies for. This is just one of the reasons that supporting businesses through times of crisis is so important.
As well as the media, it is important to consider how you will communicate about a crisis internally. This means letting any relevant stakeholders and staff know, ideally ahead of them reading it in the newspaper or online.
Being honest and letting people know so that they can ask any questions will reinforce confidence. No one likes to be left in the dark, and so putting in place the infrastructure to share updates with everyone will support staff morale, even when you are sharing bad news.
Most companies have an intranet, noticeboards or regular staff meetings. Make sure that these are used when you are dealing with a crisis. Being consistent and considered is further advice during difficult times.
Being held accountable
Those that are accountable for their mistakes are also most likely to learn from them. It’s not about holding your hands up and admitting liability for everything. It is about taking an honest look at what has happened and why.
Saying sorry may not be the position that most companies want to find themselves in, however it will make a difference to how people see the brand in the short and longer term. It could even be that you could turn a negative into a positive with how a situation is managed.
This is just further evidence of why supporting businesses through crisis is more than just an investment. It could be business critical.
People pay careful attention to the reactions from organisations and their senior managers during hard times. Managing a crisis effectively, sensitively and appropriately could encourage prospective customers or employees to take a closer look at your company.
Working with experts
As an agency, we have years of experience when it comes to supporting businesses through times of crisis. We also know how nerve wracking it can be but that most situations are manageable. Rather than flapping around and panicking, it is important that brands work with the experts.
There is an investment in crisis management, however it will deliver a return like few others. Having the reassurance that the processes in place are robust and sufficient will make any crisis easier to navigate and to manage.
Supporting businesses through crisis is just one of the tactics that we deliver for the brands we work with. For further information about our approach and how we can add value to your business through our full suite of services, please visit: www.opencomms.co.uk or call a member of the team on tel. 01924 862477.