The word ‘crisis’ is commonplace in the world’s media.
Today’s headlines alone read:
“Venezuela crisis: President willing to ‘shake hands’ with Trump
“IMF boosts bailout for crisis-hit Argentina”
“Education in Iraq is in crisis”
“Inside the legal aid crisis”
“Manchester United in crisis as Paul Pogba wants out”
The term is overused.
Then there are the genuine crises that hit.
Let’s take Scotland alone this year.
Scotland faces a constitutional crisis as both independence and Brexit threaten to change our relationship with the rest of the UK, and the EU.
We’ve written previously on the crisis developing at the heart of the Scottish Government, embroiling both the current and former First Ministers.
Many say Scotland’s education system and health services are in crisis and need fresh funding, a dramatic rethink, or both.
Knife crime in Glasgow, over-tourism in Edinburgh, bullying at NHS Highland.
Genuine crises need an effective crisis handling plan and crisis management training.
Here’s our quick-start guide how to handle a crisis if you’re the subject of the next unwanted crisis headline.
Who’s leading the investigation?
Who is the police liaison?
Who will write the press release?
Who will do the media interviews?
Pick your star team.
Many organisations we work with set up a ‘Command and Control’ centre.
Now, despite the unfolding chaos, you have order in the way you’re operating.
If you’re unsure who to pick, ask yourself this question:
“Who would I trust to lead me into battle?”
Establish everything you know to be true.
Numbers injured, missing, or worse.
Who is involved. Why it happened.
If you’re unsure, how you’re going to find these things out.
Has it happened before? Why?
What happened between now and then?
For a wider list of these types of questions that help you to handle a crisis, have a look here.
One of our hotel client called us recently, fearing they were the source of an outbreak of illness among guests.
They asked us what they should do.
Our answer was simple: close the hotel and tell the media you believe you are the source of the outbreak.
The potential reputational damage if they kept it to themselves (and people died as a result) was huge.
They closed the hotel, told the media, and it was open again two days later, with zero effect on sales.
Being proactive in your crisis communication means you’re in control of the message.
Hide behind the wall in an attempt to dodge the bullets and people will see that the negative incident has now been compounded with a bad attitude.
Stay as long as it takes to answer questions, even if you know very little.
With the list of every single thing you know in front of you, all you need are Direct Answers.
Here’s more on answering difficult questions.
Regular updates on your website give the media the facts.
Social media updates prevent speculation on how the crisis is being handled.
Phoning journalists back when you say you will helps to build trust.
Putting yourself up for interview suggest that your organisation is in control of the situation.
Simply providing a holding statement is too little.
Speculation will spiral out of control.
We’re here to help you regain control.
Andrew McFarlan is the Managing Director of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.
You can view his full profile here.
Crisis handling Glasgow image credits: pexels.com
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