Amanda Evans – Minimising risk to keep businesses on track

Businesses can be derailed in an instant. Reputations can be damaged and the knock-on effects can be catastrophic. A crisis can strike at any time and often without warning. Effective and swift crisis management can minimise the risks and avoid potentially crippling financial losses.

Following on from my earlier post covering the top-10 things to consider when managing a crisis situation here’s a deeper dive into the first three points I raised that are crucial in maintaining business continuity: 

Be prepared: Have a detailed crisis management plan in place before a crisis occurs.

Those first decisions made when a crisis occurs are crucial. They will determine the narrative that follows.

Having a robust, pre-prepared plan is vital for any organisation. This is one of the most important weapons to have in your armoury against potential incidents.

This plan can be tailored and adapted to deal with a specific crisis, but having a master plan to work from is a must-have.

It’s also vital that this is communicated to any employees, so they know exactly what they need to do.

A social media plan will also need to be a key component. Just one negative viral video could damage your brand’s reputation. 

The end-goal is to be positioned as the main source of information as the crisis unfolds. Being in control of the narrative rather than chasing one dictated by outside forces is critical.

Act quickly: Identify the crisis quickly and take immediate action to contain the situation and prevent it from escalating.

By having a robust plan prepared, it avoids panic. Knee-jerk reactions are to be avoided at all costs as these could lead to mistakes that might not only be costly but have a knock-on effect that could well jeopardise the business long-term.

Keeping a clear-head allows you to take a step back and evaluate the situation rationally.

Classify the problems, prioritise the most important tasks and avoid any overreaction. 

In some cases the issue will just go away on its own and sometimes, simply doing nothing is the best option.

But when you have established that there is a genuine PR crisis situation then remember that timing is everything and acting promptly is the best course of action.

Bear in mind that the sooner the issue is addressed, the better chance there will be of minimising any subsequent damage being done.

It’s at this moment that the strategic plan kicks in.

There is little or no time to spend crafting statements and replies, so use pre-prepared generic statements that can be tweaked to suit the situation.

If needed, more detailed explanations can be given later, but it’s crucial to have something ready to go in the first instance.

When teenagers started to copy The Tide Pod Challenge and started to film themselves eating the toxic laundry detergent and posting it online, parent company Procter and Gamble took immediate action.

They issued disclaimers and warnings against the dangerous challenge and produced a video with a well-known sports personality which was released across social media channels.

This was an example of a crisis situation that was handled swiftly and they managed to control the narrative.

Be proactive: Use the lessons learned from the crisis to improve procedures and protocols to prevent future crises from occurring.

Never sit on your laurels. Even if you have dealt effectively with a crisis, it is not the end of the matter. 

Use the lessons learnt to help improve and develop the crisis plan you have in place.

An effective plan should be an evergreen document, always evolving and adapting to the needs of an organisation.

A lot can be learnt from mistakes and a debrief is a crucial step that you can’t ignore.

Not only does it ensure you evaluate your plan but can also help prepare for any future crisis. It will also help restore confidence for the brand, employees and customers, ensuring a swift recovery. 

The gut-reaction of some businesses would be to say “We’re too busy” and “We won’t have another crisis”.

This could be a costly mistake, so taking the time to prepare, acting swiftly and post-crisis debrief could pay off in the long run and keep your organisation from falling off the rails.