Crisis management and communication is the art of tackling a crisis directly by engaging with the media and social media for damage limitation purposes. When done effectively, crisis management can greatly reduce any potential damage.
The definition of a crisis is a time of intense difficulty or danger that is threatening to people, property, reputation or bottom line – something that all organisations and individuals want to avoid at all costs.
Experts in the field will tell you that planning and preparing for potential crises are essential for any business and the better prepared you are, the better the outcome is likely to be. Following the rules prevent, prepare, respond, recover and reflect should mean you’re business is protected as best it can be and is a tried and tested method when it comes to crisis PR.
But does it really work?
One of the best recent examples of brilliant crisis PR comes from O2. In 2012 there was a complete network blackout for 2 days which prompted a huge public backlash. Many people took to Twitter to vent their frustrations but O2’s response was a stroke of genius. Instead of sending out a blanket response message, they took the time to respond and apologise individually and personally with humour injected where possible. This proved to be a great success for O2 and many customers appreciated the honesty and humour in a frustrating situation.
In my opinion, crisis PR is something that should be planned for, but what’s important is to tailor your response to your brand and customer base. If done properly, it will calm people down and the most important thing to customers is to feel their being dealt with honestly and are being given all the facts as they come to light. Transparency, whilst retaining confidential information is key.
Crisis PR is sure to enrage anyone if they’re given a standard blanket message, aren’t getting any answers and aren’t being dealt with on an individual basis.
The lessons to be learnt are that yes, you should be as prepared as possible, but that it’s key to stay informative, honest and above all true to brand with your reaction tailored to your customer set.