What do you do when find yourself embroiled in a sideways situation?
An emerging crisis is the ultimate communication crunch. Will you come through in the clutch, or will you be scalded in a flood of red-hot negativity? To help you beat the heat, Bernstein Crisis Management has posted an infographic offering crisis communication pointers, such as:
- Create a pre-emptive response protocol. If you wait until a situation has begun to formulate a plan, you’re too late. The negative narrative will eat you alive. Simulate specific crises, and craft appropriate response plans.
- Act and communicate swiftly. Don’t dawdle as storm clouds emerge. Present your side of the story—pronto.
- Keep your message simple, clear and cohesive. Don’t lash out with a rambling, lengthy defense. Stay cool, and be concise.
- Encourage your supporters to voice their opinions. When your reputation is under attack, it’s all hands on deck. Ask fans, followers and friends to speak and post on your behalf.
There’s also what not to do:
- Don’t ignore journalists. Staying silent and dodging reporters makes it look like you have something nefarious to hide. Even if you’re not quite ready to release a statement or hold a presser, be accommodating and helpful to requests for comment.
- Don’t ignore your staff. Riding out a crisis has to be a team effort. Employees must be consistently briefed and updated on the latest news, messaging priorities and strategic direction.
- Don’t react impulsively. You want to respond quickly, but don’t do anything rash. You’ll amplify damage and prolong the crisis if you (mis)fire an initial shot across the bow.
This is a good foundation for solid crisis management, but so much goes into preparation. Review the rest of the graphic below to shore up your plan.