Protecting Your Reputation During a Crisis

With the Covid-19 crisis, more and more disruptions to our daily lives have been caused. We also see that the healthcare systems around the world are barely standing and that governments have taken strict measures toward individual country’s populations to keep the healthcare systems  afloat as much as possible. We also know that we have to keep the 1.5 meter distance from each other and can not have matches with physical audience, not yet. So, taking into account everything we know about the crisis, here are some things to ensure you have for any crisis you might encounter in the future. 

Crisis Communication Plan

It is of utmost importance to have a crisis communication plan. This involves having a team with clear roles. The most common roles are the following: head of the crisis team, secretary, contact with authorities (external affairs officer), and communication (PR). The external affairs officer is the designated person to keep in touch with the authorities involved and the team whereas the PR is responsible for the social media, contact with reporters, and for what information to go public. The head of the crisis team must be able to enhance internal and external communication as well as to hold press conferences when necessary. It is essential to coordinate with the authorities to know what is going on at every step of the way. A Deloitte’s report from 2018, shows that training leaders ahead of time increases their confidence and competences when dealing with crisis situations. It is important to know what information when to be announced and how to be announced. This includes keeping the affected people updated about the situation, using clear and concise language which is not open to interpretation. Often when vague language is used, it can cause many misinterpretations so try to avoid doing that. 

News and social media 

Related to the previous point, monitor the news and various social media channels. If any information is stated incorrectly, make sure to correct it on time. If needed, hold a press conference in which you clearly state the current situation and explain what you are doing. 

Fake news

Fake news is another related point. The best way to recognize  fake news about the organization or the situation is to constantly keep in touch with the other people in the crisis team. These are the people with the most accurate information at any point in time. If you encounter fake news or are suspicious of fake news, check the person’s credibility and their background, the resources they use (who is their primary resource), and instead of contacting them asking to delete/edit their comments, update your social media channels with accurate information. 

Build a safety net 

As an organization, you need to have a safety net. By safety net, we do not mean money to use in urgency before going bankrupt (although that is useful to have), but rather it is about having a disaster fund. Having enough money in the bank account to deal with rare but high-risk situations is useful because a lot of resources can be lost.

Update often

Related to previous points, update often. As soon as new information is received and processed, let it out to the world but do not overdo it. It all depends on the urgency of the situation and the information received. For example, if someone has died, it is best to first let the family know and then ask them if they are willing to have a public funeral, talk to the press, and other similar activities. If the answer is a ‘no’, it is best to respect their wishes and just let the press know that the sportsman has passed away and that there will be a private funeral only for the family. 

Rebuild 

If you have handled all public communication properly, updated the fans frequently and given current information, it will be easier for you to rebuild your public image. However, if you have done many things wrong during the crisis, you might lose fans, sponsors, and your own credibility. Therefore, when crises occur, show respect toward the various parties, help the various parties involved, and make sure to communicate often with the most current information.

Emotion management 

During any crisis event, emotions are strong and quite often negative. It usually has people worried and maybe sad. Despite the negative emotion that everyone experiences, we should also pay attention to the employees. They are the people working in the organization. If their worries and grief are not addressed appropriately and they do not feel supported, there may be negative consequences for the organization.  Make sure to send out clear and precise messages as well as making decisions which will keep the situation under control.

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