A crisis is an unexpected event that usually catches an individual or an organisation unaware. It can strike any company anywhere and at any time.
Before a crisis occurs, it is important think about how such a disaster would impact employees, customers, suppliers, the general public and the company’s value. Advanced planning for the occurrence of one would be the best way for your company to mitigate the effects of a crisis.
There are four major types of crisis which include:
a) Immediate crisis - this is the type that nobody ever sees coming. It catches your organisation completely unaware. Plus it never gives you any warning signs. A good example is an accident at your workplace like the breaking out of a fire.
b) Building crisis - this is the type that you can see coming. In many instances people tend to ignore the signs because you assure yourself that it cannot be that bad. An example would be if your company is practising tax evasion, you know that this can land you in trouble some day but you still keep at it.
c) Continuing crisis - the kind that is in progress. The process of solving it is still underway. An example would be if your company is sued by a client and the case is still in court.
d) Recurring crisis - once an organisation deals with a crisis many times they tend to forget about it. However for some they have chances of recurring and the second time could be worse than the first.
On a daily basis, the news is filled with headlines of companies dealing with crisis. The question you should ask yourself is whether you are prepared for this. For example you operate a construction company and an industrial accident has injured several key members of your team, how would you react?
Having a crisis plan in place could help you manage and mitigate some of the effects in case one does occur.
We look at tips that help you prepare for and manage a crisis.
Emphasis on the fact that a crisis can occur at any time and to anyone cannot be enough. It is important to ensure that your organisation is proactive. You need to be able to anticipate the occurrence of one and to plan adequately on how you are going to get past it. In case your company is faced by one without preparation chances are that the damage caused will be higher than if and when you are prepared.
Whenever a crisis occurs a company tends to be under a lot of pressure. It is even worse from the media who have the ability to destroy your company’s reputation. To ensure that your company speaks with one voice and delivers a consistent message, a spokesperson must be identified as well as prepared to answer media questions and participate in interviews.
For the companies that deal with high risk products or services, it is prudent to have a department that specialises in crisis and risk. You should hire people who have experience in this so that they can come up with a strategy and policies that will be used. However in case you are a start-up business you can always create an adhoc committee, whose specific task is to deal with crisis management when you are faced with one. This will enable them to specialise in that field and to gather all the information required to deal with such events.
It is very crucial for a company to acknowledge that they are going through a crisis and to be open about it. The best way is to do that before the gutter press does it because they always have a way of spreading false information that can potentially add salt to injury. Nothing generates more negative media coverage than a lack of honesty and transparency. The transparency should be consistent through all communication channels such as news interviews, social media and internal announcements.
You should ensure that you make personal communication with your shareholders so that they don’t have to read about it on the newspapers. Part of the crisis communications plan should include customers and suppliers and how they will be regularly updated during the event. Doing this will leave them having a sense of belonging to your company and will ignite brand loyalty in the end.
Change is constant. You should review your strategy to ensure that the methods outlined are still up to date. This will also help you to keep the conversation going with your stakeholders as it is always better to over-communicate than to allow rumours to fill the void. You should issue summary statements, update action plans and new developments as early and as often as possible.
Once the crisis is over, establish a follow-up plan to show corrective measures taken: report developments by use of press releases and conferences and revealing future plans to avert the crisis.
If a crisis is tackled in the right way it has the ability to have a positive impact on your business by not only boosting confidence with your stakeholders, but also enabling you to grow and adapt to new challenges.