Have you ever jumped on Twitter trying to say something witty about a life altering circumstance that is occurring with someone only to realize you used a brands twitter account and ended up pissing off millions of followers as it completely backfired? Have you been the Mayor of a city and been caught smoking crack where you shouldn’t be (no wait, “Just Say No To Drugs”). We live in a digital age, it is with us on our night tables (smartphones), our cars, work and all throughout our homes. The world is watching what advertisers, brands and public relations professionals are saying about the company they work for or work with, so now more than ever it is crucial to have a strong digital crisis communications plan in place.
Recently John Crean, National Managing Partner at NATIONAL Public Relations led a seminar Crisis Communication: Not If, but When at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Throughout his talk he discussed how to anticipate organizational crisis risk, prepare appropriate messaging and positioning, and responding appropriately to all stakeholders.
With a career of industry-leading crisis experience, Crean discussed how to anticipate organizational crisis risk, prepare appropriate messaging and positioning, and responding appropriately to all stakeholders.
“The new principles of crisis management can be counter-intuitive to the disciplined and business-savvy executive who puts a priority on full knowledge, thoughtful consideration of the options and who speaks only when they have something to say,” said John Crean. “Those who anticipate and plan in advance of a crisis will have the instincts and processes in place to make fast, smart decisions that will go a long way to saving your reputation and potentially your business.”
Crisis Communication: Not If, but When touched upon seven key principles to keep in mind when a crisis strikes:
- Act short term, think long term;
- The public interest is the company’s interest;
- Pay attention to social media but don’t be a slave to it;
- Transparency is your friend;
- Fast is the new good;
- When the company is at fault, apologize; and
- When the crisis is over, focus on reputation.
“Social media and technology have changed the game,” said Crean. “You have to act immediately, communicate on multiple channels to multiple audiences and defend your decisions in real time to the media, the public, customers and regulators.”
Speaking to a sold out crowd, John emphasized that a major crisis can be survived, but an organization only has one chance to get it right. If mishandled, a crisis can critically damage an organization’s reputation. If handled well, it can solidify an organization’s position in the mind of investors, customers and the general public.
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