Communication and Public relations for Corporate Crisis Management
The public relations team plays a key role in carrying out a crisis management program. When a crisis, large or small, hits a company, the first question on everyone’s lips is: ‘who is their PR agency?’ This team is responsible for managing the communication of the crisis and relations with the media, which will determine the success of the strategy and the chances of getting out of the crisis quickly and minimizing the damage as much as possible. In this sense, having a crisis communication plan with guidelines on how to interface not only with the media but also with customers and all different stakeholders is fundamental.
Furthermore, in designing the communication plan, in order for the “messages to be received correctly“, it must always be kept in mind that the outside world cares more about what customers and other interested parties have to say than the company involved in the crisis intends to communicate. The time required for the elaboration of a press release (even one hour) is still sufficient for the online dissemination of the incident and for the development of online conversations about it. In this sense, we need to work well on managing the crisis on social networks trying, even before the creation of a more detailed press release, to express and disseminate the corporate position or a possible clarification or denial through a post published on the company’s channels.
What Is Crisis Management and What Is It For?
Crisis management becomes necessary, therefore, to address problems and interruptions that occur during the normal functioning of a business, caused by events internal or external to the company and which can cause serious damage to the brand reputation, corporate performance and, in extreme cases, lead to bankruptcy. It is possible to say that a crisis occurs when facts or events capable of damaging the company’s reputation and performance become public and the ability to control information and conversations about the brand is lost. And thus it becomes difficult to manage what is said about it.
Companies must be ready for these challenges at any time and equip themselves with adequate tools and resources to address issues that have the potential to become instant global nightmares since the question is not whether a company or organization will have to face a communication crisis but when. In this sense, the objective of crisis management or corporate crisis management is to respond to potential or actual threats and that is to implement within the company not only reactive but also proactive conduct, with a view to monitoring and the prevention of potential problems that could damage the company and / or its shareholders. In case of need, decisions must be taken in a timely manner and to do this a crisis plan must be established, with guidelines on the actions to be taken and on the subjects to be activated.
How to Prevent Corporate Crises
The practice of crisis management therefore also includes the activities of prevention and identification of all potential crisis scenarios that may emerge, which is not limited to the development of a crisis management plan. In fact, the latter is only one (important) component within a broader crisis management program that the company should implement crisis management strategist. Companies must adopt a real culture of preparation for crisis management.
In this sense, the crisis management strategy must include the detection of “weak signs of crisis”, ie indicators of problems that involve risks for the organization, and assess the degree of actual preparation to face these risks. A study conducted by the consulting agency Deloitte on a sample of over 500 crisis management executives showed that 90% of respondents believe that their organization is capable of dealing with a corporate scandal.
However, only 17% actually put their preparation to the test with a crisis management simulation exercise. The prior assignment of roles and tasks to be carried out by the various subjects in the event of a corporate crisis is fundamental and all subjects (both internal and external to the company who may possibly be involved) must be informed on what to do in the event of a crisis, in order to take appropriate action and timely in case of need.
As stated on the agency’s website, the first parties involved in this type of simulation are the members of the crisis management team, a team that usually includes management representatives. The people involved in this type of exercise may vary depending on the simulation type, but should in principle be asked to join members of the human resources, the communications team, the legal team and logistics.