A crisis can happen to any business, of any size, at any time. Do you have procedures in place to avoid a crisis before it happens, and a plan for responding to it when it strikes? And if you do have a plan, is it effective?
This year, the world will celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 97th birthday. Whether he knew it or not, he had a lot to say about crisis communications. In honor of his life and achievements, we’ll use some of his wise quotes to highlight key elements of a solid and successful crisis management plan:
“The first thing is to be honest with yourself.”
You may not be able to account for every possibility, but you can identify the most likely problem areas and prepare for the moment when they cause a major issue for your company. Be aware of your liabilities, the things that could come back to haunt you, personally and professionally. Some of these might be uncomfortable truths, but think how much worse it would be if someone else found them first.
“One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.”
Part of being honest with yourself is acknowledging that you and your business are vulnerable. If you accept that you are not immune to damage, you can create a plan that will protect your brand from the worst repercussions.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
A strong response to a crisis can shine a positive light on you and your company even in dark times. Your handling of negative situations says a lot about your business. You can respond to a crisis in a way that makes the public question your integrity, or you can respond in a way that gives them reasons to respect you more.
“When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”
Whatever you do, do not ignore the problem. The crisis will affect you whether you react to it or not. You will have more control over the outcome if you are proactive. Ask for support from a trusted advisor, someone not affected by the situation and who has had a positive experience handling crisis.
If you or your business is facing a crisis, don’t lose hope! You may feel discouraged, as though there is no way you and your business can ever bounce back. But a solid plan and a right execution will carry you all the way through from prevention, to response, to reclaiming your good reputation when the smoke clears.
As Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
GillespieHall is an integrated digital marketing and digital PR firm. Our award-winning team is comprised of astute PR communicators, sociologists, digital strategists, and creative content designers. We are leaders in exceptional results-based marketing, social media, brand development and crisis management.