Life is very uncertain and so is the crisis!
Today, we are living in a world where social media has the power to influence our daily life. Just one odd image or video goes viral on social media and the reputation of a brand will be a question. Social media is both a blessing and a boon in disguise for Public Relations. The image of the brand or person is what Public Relations is capable of maintaining in front of the Public.
The reputation of a person or a brand is likely to get affected during a crisis, hiring a Professional already in the organization to handle crises like these is what will make revival a good chapter for the organization and the reputation of your organization.
A crisis is any major unforeseeable event which could possibly put in harm or is capable of posing a threat to the reputation of the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public.
A crisis could be defined as: a major event, which always comes as a surprise and it is a wakeup call for the organization that their working needs change keeping in mind the turn of events. The crisis which is looking in the face should be a learning point that the loopholes should not be ignored. Anything can go wrong anytime; we need to stay prepared.
The Planning for a crisis is never on the spot. An action plan which has been tried and tested at times before on an annual basis is what the company needs during a crisis. The crisis might not look the same but the management techniques that have been practiced will lead the company towards the right solution.
For example, Do you remember the day the claims about Nestle’s Maggi Noodles being unsafe and hazardous for human consumption went Viral? Nestle lost more than Rs 500 crore (US$77 million) over the ban, which forced it to destroy more than 37,000 tonnes of Maggi noodles. The reports proved right and Mr. Bachchan had to step down as the brand ambassador for Maggi. Nestle got a boycott and there was a surge in sales of Sunfeast’s Yippee and various other brands took advantage of the situation and registered huge sales. Nestle Maggi was banned from the market until the revival of Maggi. Although Nestle Maggi chose defiance over an apology, the PR worked hard in the rebirth of Maggi noodles by advertisements that conveyed the right message during that time.
Now that we know what a crisis looks like, let’s have a look at the Chronology of Steps we need to undertake in order to resolve the allegations.
- Just calm down: The news is out, but just relax. Relax because the collective response from the organization at such a crucial time matters. Also, because you are the PR, if you stay calm only then others will stay calm during the crisis. Connect with everyone and call for a meeting.
- Talk to your associates: Make sure everyone is present, everyone is important. The organization is what it is because of the employees and the public. So, while the Public is busy watching news the organization will prepare for an answer. Everyone will be involved in the discussion so that the word is out. The public will be looking for answers after it is done listening to news anchors.
- Investigate & think of a response: Coming up with a response is a good move. But this can not be the first step. We need to know the other side of the story, the story being served to the public. The response will surely depend on what escalated the crisis and what the masses believe.
- See how it impacts the reputation: This is the next most important step in crisis management. The organization is not a single entity, it is complete with its stakeholders, shareholders and the partners. They together complete the organization; their money is also invested into your business. So now at this point think of the impact the crisis might put upon the revenue of the organization. And ofcourse, every crisis will have a dark impact upon the stakes of the organization. But in even such a situation, if the communication amongst the organization takes place in an effective manner, a lot can get right.
- Hear more & say less: Things went out of control and a crisis got born. So when everyone is already talking about you, the fun here would be to listen to all that people have to say about your organization, your reputation. The rumors will tell you which direction to go after the storm silences. First, you need to know how many people are talking. How big is the impact? That will give you a way out as to what should be your final word.
- Take a decision, set reply: So now that you have talked to your associates, did the necessary investigation, took care of the impacts. It is now time to think of a valid reasonable reply, if the crisis escalated online, spread the word on social media. Another way of spreading the word would be issuing a press release for circulation amongst the media. And if drafting a press release is not your key area then we at NewsVoir have a complete set of orders for drafting and then circulation. We have alliances with major media websites and publications who will happily carry your press release. The reply should be able to satisfy the questions being raised by the media and the public. This is the biggest advantage of following the step-by-step guide for crisis management as going step by step will make sure you do not miss anything important and even the public is satisfied.
- Spread the word, meet & greet media: Depending upon the situation and how the stakeholders and media engagement needs to happen, the timing might be right for media interaction whether through one-to-one interviews to select few media houses and news agencies or having a Press conference to clear the air. As a Public Relations Professional, facing the media should be the most interesting part about the crisis. The media will come upon you with all types of allegations, questions and that 1-hour press conference will decide a lot for the organization and the future. Bonus Point: The journalists attending the conference must be treated with huge respect and should leave the conference smiling. The positive coverage your organization will receive after the press conference and the press release from Media houses will depend on how satisfied and content, they are with the company reputation.
- Crisis Management Strategy for future: So, you know what a crisis looks like, and the fact that your organization was not prepared for such a crisis. This should be your biggest inspiration so that if God forbid another crisis appears in the future, the company stays all set for a head on collision. The Crisis Management strategy should be documented for future reference. The strategy, depending on what response it received could be an example for others and a learning process for students. Publish a blog, spread about it on social media, let people know what a talented PR holds and how things can be handled systematically.
- See how the message spreads: The word is out, it is up to the media now how it will spread the word towards the public and the reaction of the public will be another side to the same story. The response from the public and media will be the deciding factor for the reputation revival of the organization. Generally, the media talks about any issue for a few days and later when it finds something more important shifts to it. So, the chances of revival will be soon in that case where you have successfully registered your side of the story into people’s minds and the work is done.
- Set an example: The story of your brand might interest others and they might want to learn more about the experience of your company. The best way would be to turn up with complete honesty and tell people what actually happened. Another could be writing about it on social media or a blog or even a small video thanking all those who supported and kept their trust in your brand even during a crisis. The most important part is still to spread the message internally so the employees learn and the revival will be called a rebirth.
- Rest & Enjoy now: The rain clouds have vanished now, but unless not completely sure do not step out in the open. Stay lowkey for a while or at least till you can take it. But, when the right time hits make sure you find a way to let the past go and relax a bit. Call for a small get together, everyone has been stressed and now is the time to chill.
- Future Prospects, leave behind the past: The past is dark and dingy that is why we don’t talk about it right? Learning lessons is important and that we have already discussed. The situation of crisis and your organization both will be an example for the future which also gives the message to be prepared for the worst too. Hurdles are a part of life, so are crises and it is okay to face a crisis once in a blue moon. The future will be hopeful and your organization will turn up stronger and better only when the lessons have been learnt and once it is done, there is no looking back. The future is bright and shiny for all those who look up to it with positivity, so let’s be positive and move ahead with a smile.
We have made it to the conclusion finally, we know all about a Crisis and we also know that a crisis is inevitable. Everyone running a business should know how to handle a situation under crisis. It also depends on the skills and expertise of the employees and at first how you function as a PR. This article helped us in looking at the various crucial steps that are a part of the crisis management process for any PR Professional. These steps have been researched, tried and tested. Also, these are followed by many professionals in helping out clients. Life and experiences are all about learning and experimenting. So, you can always explore and find out tactics and solutions to handle PR problems your way. You can help our readers learn some extra points by writing them down in the comments section below, we are open to suggestions as well.
Thank you for reading!