- Contest Factory
- March 31, 2020
It’s almost impossible to be 100% ready when a crisis hits. But if you don’t arm your staff with a clear strategy to inform your response, it will most likely be too little, too late. Or worse, you’ll end up creating a bigger disaster than the one you were responding to.
Here are 5 essentials crisis communication response needs to preserve the integrity of your company, the loyalty of your customers, and the sanity of your staff.
1. Have Your Team Armed & Ready
Even if you’re a small business, you need detailed crisis communication guidelines, ideally written by an expert, that are easily accessible by your staff. The guidelines should outline how to tailor messaging to each specific network (LinkedIn, for example, should have a more professional tone, while Facebook and Twitter can be more casual), and provide processes for updating your website and other communication channels.
Consider writing a press release pending how relevant the crisis news is to your business. This same business type communication can be used on Linkedin as an official corporate communication.
You also need to designate which staff will work on your crisis response team and provide thorough training on their roles and responsibilities. Remember, any details or steps that fall through the cracks could drag your company’s reputation down with them.
2. Speak your Truth
With a proactive plan in place, you can make sure you are prepared to send consistent messaging across all networks to help restore trust and loyalty. Although you can’t prepare exact responses for an unexpected crisis, you can write out your company’s mission and core values in ways that can be integrated into crisis-specific messaging.
You can also craft stories detailing the various ways your company has positively impacted your community, employees, and customers’ lives. These are authentic opportunities to align your brand, values, and messaging with consumer sentiments and experiences.
3. Do the Most Good with What You Got
When trying to make up for your mistakes, offering customers something with perceived, tangible value is always the best approach. But when dealing with something as sensitive as COVID-19, it’s critical to put yourself in your customers’ shoes to understand the best way to serve them. What are their most pressing needs, and are they more emotional or practical? You can use social media to engage and connect with customers directly to determine how you can best meet their needs, strengthening your presence and customer relationships.
Community and global crises also present opportunities to demonstrate your values as a company and concerned corporate citizen. You can offer up your goods, services, or resources in ways that support those affected by the crisis.
In response to the nationwide shortage of hand sanitizer, French luxury company, LVMH, dedicated its cosmetics unit to manufacturing large quantities of sanitizing gel to distribute across the country. The Gap and Nike both started producing medical face masks with their branding bright and vividly being worn on medical professionals’ faces across the globe.
On a community level, companies can contribute in more personal ways. For example, a neighborhood restaurant could offer customers a free dessert with dinner and equip its delivery drivers with masks and protective gloves. Or a music venue could offer access to an exclusive online video or concert.
4. Show & Tell
The most important thing you can do to get in front of a crisis is to address it head-on. Make an official statement owning your mistake and outlining the exact steps you are going to take to remedy the situation. Your statement needs to be made as early as possible and spread across all your social media channels, and the language should be in sync with your brand’s voice. But, above all, you need to make sure you are expressing your brand with integrity, honesty, and compassion.
In the case of a global crisis, you can find ways to get involved personally, sharing your resources and working in the trenches to support and connect with your community.
5. Be Vigilant with Monitoring Response
It’s crucial to remember that your work is not done after you have posted your official statement or offered a free voucher. You have to stay on top of your customers’ responses and continue to engage with them as much as possible.
Google Alerts is free and a great way to see where and how your company and products are being mentioned. But for the most detailed and up-to-date information, it’s best to use software specifically designed for monitoring activity and brand mentions.
Just like a virus, a crisis can spread across your media channels rapidly and cause irreparable harm. But if you implement an informed and effective response strategy, you can minimize damage to your brand’s name and help others in crisis, establishing deeper, more meaningful relationships with your customers and your community.