Expecting the Unexpected: A Short Guide to Crisis Management
You own a small, local eatery in your town’s downtown square. Everyone loves your food and business is growing exponentially by the month…until one, then two, then fifteen of your regular customers come down with bad cases of food poisoning. It is all over the Internet, social media and the local TV station. What do you do?
Although this crisis situation may seem small compared to many known crises ,such as toy recalls or corporate scandals, it is still a great learning example of what a crisis management situation looks like.
The most important part of crisis management is to have a plan. Your business or organization should have a written plan for a variety of crisis situations that may occur. Things that should be taken into account in this plan are things such as the well-being of employees, customers and stakeholders. It should also lay out an action system to ensure key audiences are remaining informed on the situation.
In a crisis, after ensuring that you already have a set plan in place, it is important to identify a single member of your organization that will act as a spokesperson. Whether it is a specific public relations representative, or even the CEO, it is important that one voice is available to convey your organization’s message. Along with this, it is crucial that a consistent message is being sent out to those audiences. Honesty is the best policy in any crisis situation. You can never go wrong with telling the truth, and it will help your organization greatly in the recovery stage following a crisis.
Finally, something necessary to remember in any crisis management situation is that you want your organization’s voice to be heard. Updates to key audiences and media efficiently and often are of the highest importance. No one can tell your story better than you, and you do not want an outside source making your story for you. Social media is a great place to go for these regular updates. Social media does not only offer you a platform in which to communicate your message, but it also allows you to work with no time constraint or middle man. Social media in a crisis should be used for constant updates, fire control and communicating with publics. It is crucial to have a set person manning social media pages in order to ensure that questions are being answered and key audiences are getting the communication/information that they need. Something else to remember is that not all of your social media sites are going to be applicable during a crisis. Find where your publics are going to find you the most, and stick with maybe one or two platforms that allow two-way communication between your organization and your audiences.
So, in the case your downtown eatery does in fact produce 15 cases of food poisoning, you will be a little more prepared with these keys to success on crisis management.