Five things you can do now to protect your reputation in a crisis (that your team will thank you for.)

Burning oil rigs, devastating plane crashes or industrial accidents tend to be the types of things that spring to mind when crisis management is mentioned.

It’s life-and-death stuff and usually well documented in risk management matrices, Crisis Management Plans, and prepared for through operational drills that hone frontline responses.

Regardless of the size of an enterprise, when a fire (literal or otherwise) is burning, it’s too late to do things for the first time, including taking steps to protect your reputation.

It’s critical to consider crisis management an enterprise-wide activity designed to both address the crisis and protect your reputation, so you can get back to business as usual as quickly as possible.

Here’s our tips to boost your crisis response.

1. Support your decision-makers with media training, even if they’re not spokespeople

A decade ago, the rule of thumb was that businesses had about two hours to publicly acknowledge a crisis and issue a statement. With the ubiquitous nature of social media, that time has been crunched to about 10 minutes.

Giving decision-makers – including operational leaders – media training makes sure they can appropriately prioritise the review and approval of public statements, and have the skills to do so. This will help keep you ahead of the game in managing a crisis.

2. Have a plan for IT and security access

Any starter in a new job knows it can take weeks to get security passes and access local IT networks.

In a crisis, bringing in outside help at short notice to help manage media and stakeholders is a great move, but you’ll need tried-and-tested workarounds to enable them to get working – fast.

This is particularly important because in our experience, crisis rarely keeps business hours.

3. Drill with outward-facing staff

Any telephone number or email address listed online for your business is fair game in a time of crisis, and you can expect to be flooded with questions from stakeholders, journalists and the family members of staff.

It’s one thing to have a plan for managing phone and email contact – it’s quite another to test it. By including outward-facing staff including sales and reception in drill scenarios, they can practice the technical and practical side of managing a deluge of messages and provide critical feedback for improvement.

4. Coordinate your internal and external messages

Employee communications at a time of crisis are important and have a different focus to external communications. That said, no matter what platform you use to talk to staff – be it text message, face-to-face briefings, Slack, Sharepoint, email or Yammer – you can expect whatever goes out will make it into the public domain within minutes.

Employee communications might have a different focus, but the central messaging and themes should match public statements. Consistency is key to maintaining trust with stakeholders and credibility with the public.

5. …And this is the bit where we suggest you get in touch.

We are the nominated crisis communications partner for a wide range of Western Australian organisations in the oil and gas, mining, construction, industrial, health and aged care, and educational sectors.

Our team has experience working within the AIIMS Incident Management Structure both in Government and industry, meaning we can provide support to an in-house communications team, or lead your response from the outset.

We have a crisis communications facility in our Subiaco offices that enables us to handle a response that includes proactive monitoring, through to handling an incident, undertaking rapid media training or holding media conferences for our clients.

We can also join with clients on-site to handle a crisis, and regularly with clients during crisis simulations covering a wide range of scenarios.

Author


Anthony Hasluck
Managing Director

Anthony is the majority owner of Western Australia’s largest independent public relations agency, Clarity Communications. In addition to his managerial and consulting activities connected with Clarity, Anthony is a Director the Racing and Gaming Authority.