From medical errors to money laundering, a business is susceptible to a range of crises, some of which aren’t in your control. A crisis can strike at any moment, and the way a company communicates with the media has long-term impact on its reputation and future. As a company, whether a start-up or a legacy brand, the difference lies in whether you have a crisis communication strategy or not. This makes it possible to handle the crisis in the first few hours when the public hasn’t picked a side and are open for communication.
Here’s how to confidently handle media communications during a crisis:
1. Form a Crisis Communication Team
Choose team members that are skilled in public relations, media handling, and decision-making as their primary role would be to assess the situation, develop a communication strategy, and become the central point for all external communications.
Once you’ve assembled the team, task them with drafting messages for all possible crisis scenarios. You can include a media trainer in Toronto in the planning process to help you find the balance between sounding genuine and maintaining a strong brand image and also train your team on how you present during a crisis.
2. Assess the Situation Quickly
Ask yourself: What is the impact of this crisis? What are the potential risks? What is the main message of your response and how does it affect the company’s market positioning?
Depending on the complexity of the crisis, you might want to involve stakeholders and also consider their output. Do not delay or misrepresent information. Also, make a list of potential questions that reporters might ask and prepare answers for them right away.
3. Develop a Clear Message
Your response message should be concise and straightforward. It should acknowledge the situation, express concern for those affected, and outline the steps being taken to address the issue. Honesty and authenticity goes a long way.
4. Find the Right Communication Channels
Whether it is traditional media, social media, or a press release, your choice of communication channel affects the nature of your message and delivery. Press releases and new communication are recommended for crises that affect a large percentage of your stakeholders.
Email and direct communication is for data breach-related crises as you can immediately share them with your customers and employees. If you want a message out immediately and provide continuous updates, social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram are the way to go. For criss involving legal cases or environmental effects, create a section on your website that is updated regularly.
5. Be Consistent and Offer Ongoing Communication
Crisis communication is not a one-time event. Regular updates, even if there's no new information, can reassure the public and the media that the situation is being managed. Consistency in the message across all channels to avoid any confusion.
6. Be Responsive to Media Inquiries
Make the media your ally and be responsive to all their queries. When you show that you are responsive, even though you can’t provide all the answers, it shows that you are working hard to find a solution. It builds a relationship based on respect and cooperation.
7. Monitor Media Coverage and Public Reaction
Media listening can be a powerful tool as it provides feedback into the effectiveness of your communication strategy and also highlights areas that need adjustment. Depending on your analysis, you can swiftly adjust the tone, contents, and message of your responses and also demystify misinformation or rumours, if any.
8. Learn and Adapt
Crisis communication is not a one-time thing. After the crisis has passed, review how well the company handled it and analyse how you’ll handle it in the future. Continue following social media and traditional media for people’s responses and build long-term trust.
At Bulletproof Media Training, we help brands across North America develop a strong crisis communication strategy as part of our media training services. We’d love to help you out! Send us an email for a free consultation.