There are a number of sudden and unexpected events with the potential to cause great damage to your company no matter your industry, size, or resources which commonly refer to as organization or business crisis. Business crisis often triggers feeling of fear and threat as it generally arises on a short notice, leaving the management of organizations uncaught of the situations. It could also disrupt business operations, damages your reputation, and negatively impacts your finances.
When a crisis intersects with social media the lightning speed with which things unravel makes it vital for communication professionals to be equally fast in not only reacting but moving one step ahead to contain the situation. It is vital therefore to have a crisis management plan that includes a crisis communications plan that can somehow “Organise the Chaos”. Advanced planning is the key to survival.
How a Crisis Affects Your Business
In the professional world, anything that could adversely affect the credibility or the bottom line of your company is a crisis. Some worst-case scenarios include product recalls, stolen data, false accusations, or the loss of a key higher-up. Even bad reviews can be seen as a crisis if they snowball out of control. Any of these situations could prove to be catastrophic or even fatal to your company name and/or earnings.
An organization handles many types of crises that are beyond their control. Natural disasters like earthquakes and oil spills or industrial accidents can’t be prevented, yet other potential crises may be directly caused by your company or employees. Preventable crises that result from an oversight or a poor decision could drag your name through the mud. An improperly planned tweet or misstatement can easily erupt into a social media crisis. For that reason, it’s imperative to formulate a crisis response strategy should the need ever arise.
While there are an infinite number of scenarios, companies are affected primarily in three ways (Source: ReputationManagement):
- Reputation damage
During a PR crisis the news cycle can corrode the image of your brand with the constant negative press. Damaging stories flood traditional media such as print, TV, and radios. Furthermore, digital content from websites and social media continues to tie your brand to the crisis. The mistakes, actions and inactions of your company will be reproached and broadcast around the world.
The ongoing media attention could cause negative articles to remain in the search results of Google long after the crisis is over. Once negative content is established, only a targeted reputation management strategy can dislodge it from page one.
- Business operations disruption
Your business continuity plan may require you to pull people from multiple departments. Vital business functions like customer service and production could be at risk when teams are short-staffed.
Elevated work stress and a poor reputation may increase employee turnover and hiring costs. Furthermore, operations may be hindered when chief executives leave the company on short notice.
- Revenue loss
Constant negative media attention will bury positive content in your search engine results. This can damage your reputation and drive away potential customers. People may also have a difficult time finding your website and social media properties if they aren’t on page one. Reputational risk combined with reduced website traffic leads to lost revenue.
Therefore, it is important to prepare your organisations against unforeseen crisis and protect your company’s reputation through difficult times. These are the three main areas how a crisis management and communication plan can help you:
- Crisis Management plan helps to assess the risks ahead by developing a risk heat map
- Enabling immediate crisis communication, and to direct practical media and online engagement through PR crisis strategy and response in both traditional and social media.
- Maintain or even increase confidence in the organisation during crisis by identifying ‘minefields’ and developing level-headed approaches