02.03.2017 Five things you need to know about crisis communications

Whether you run a business or work in an in-house comms team, you are likely to face a crisis situation in the course of your career. Here are five key lessons about crisis communications and reputation management that are worth remembering:

There are two types of crisis

You might think a crisis is a crisis, but there are actually two different types, called Cobra and Python. A ‘Cobra crisis’ is sudden, takes you by surprise and you are seen as the victim, whereas a ‘Python crisis’ creeps up on you because you failed to spot it, often arises from more than one issue and you will be blamed.

Social media heightens a crisis

These days information travels fast, and thanks to social media a crisis can rapidly spiral out of control in a way it wouldn’t have just a few years ago. Once a crisis is reported or commented upon on social media anyone can get involved and quickly broadcast it to a much In this type of fast-moving situation you really need to be on top of your game to deal with it.

A crisis comms plan is essential

All companies should have a crisis comms plan and carry out a crisis audit to anticipate potential risks. Ask ‘what if’? Does it fit a theme? Is it what journalist are writing about at the moment? The plan should be simple, six pages or fewer (but with detailed appendices),and you should carry out crisis simulation and training at least once a year. However, even if you haven’t got robust plans and even if you haven’t tested them regularly it’s still possible to use common sense and professionalism to drag yourself out of a hole.

Reputation is key

You need to make sure your management team understand the value of reputation. Reputation is predicated on trust. Reputational damage is formed by the gap between what you say you do and what you are perceived to deliver. Your mission statements could be setting you up for a fall if you are not living up to your promises.

You sometimes have to ride the storm

Sometimes crisis comms situations can explode, putting you at the centre of national media attention. No matter how well you have prepared and how well you deal with it, events might spiral completely out of your control. In these situations you sometimes have to ride the storm; some major crises can’t be ‘PR’d’ overnight.

Here at Brighter Comms we understand the importance of reputation and are skilled at dealing with crisis situations, including those on social media. To see how we can help your business’s reputation, or if you need help drafting a crisis communications plan click here.