With decades of media monitoring and analysis experience for organisations, we’ve found some key pointers to successfully steer a company through a crisis. In no particular order…
1. Keep the communication flow open between your corporation, external media outlets and the public. The board of directors should quickly call internal meetings, keep in contact with media and alert stakeholders as soon as possible. Mystery surrounding a crisis begets the question, what are you trying to hide? Rumours grow and spread, making them more difficult to address and correct further down the track.
2. Quickly decide your concise and consistent message. There might be dozens of legitimate explanations - it's best to run with the clearest and most persuasive one. The public is probably already buzzing with information overload. In this case, preparation is key. You might recall the "CHANGE" tagline from Obama's president campaign. This initial branding can be used as a mental shortcut for the public to turn to when information overwhelms them.
3. Put public perception as your top priority. This is always the chief concern when you address a crisis. This is a fight for your brand, and branding is about emotion – clients are hopefully looking for a reason to forgive your organisation. Try to take a positive but firm perspective and earn back your clients’ trust.
4. Plan for recovery: The crisis will fade away, either helped by your own efforts or completely by its own course (human nature will see to this, given our short attention spans). This doesn’t mean you should relax or become lazy. Corporate communications teams need to work even harder to reduce the impact of the crisis and make sure it’s not the first thing that is associated with your brand.
Communications strategy is an ongoing process that helps you shape the public’s perception and build a strong foundation to refer back to when a crisis or misunderstanding occurs.
Ho Chi Minh City, June 2015