2018 was a busy year for our crisis management team! From combating reputation damage due fake news campaigns, to advising a client innocently caught up in a front-page political furore. From managing responses to a potentially explosive situation that could have been construed as political bias or even racism, to various drought-related and other crises for our hospitality and events clients …
It is very pleasing that in all cases the possible damage was minimised and in most cases, reputations were actually enhanced. This was due to excellent research, planning and swift, honest and appropriate responses.
Follow these 10 tips, taken from lessons learnt during the festive season, and you’ll be ready for whatever may come your way in 2019.
1. Plan ahead for good crisis management
Every company (and every individual in the public eye) needs to have a crisis management plan in place BEFORE a crisis develops. We can’t stress this enough. Our team can come in and help you when things go wrong, but it is better for everyone, especially your employees, if you have a plan to follow.
2. Make sure your response team can respond
That plan should include setting up a WhatsApp group (or similar) in advance, so that all those in the chain of approval can liaise and respond immediately. This is especially important over holiday periods when such individuals are not checking their emails regularly.
3. And respond quickly
Do not keep silent, hoping no-one will notice during the Christmas lull. Boxing Day boredom is around the corner…
4. Avoid legal laggards
Be aware that getting responses approved by your legal advisor will slow things down to your detriment. Get your legal team to agree that approvals during a crisis will be done in minutes, not days, even during the holidays. If they can’t commit to this, engage another lawyer – ideally, one with media and social media experience.
5. Be honest, transparent, kind and compassionate, always
Make sure that while you are focused on getting through your own crisis, you make time to acknowledge and help others affected by it.
6. Acknowledge the unsung heroes
Also remember the first responders who are giving up time with their families to help you.
7. Show your concern even if you’re not at fault
It can be difficult when your insurance company insists that your communications admit no guilt. But carefully crafted statements can show your appropriate and deep dismay without intimating fault. Detached legalese comes across as arrogant and uncaring.
8. Put journos on speed-dial
Always make sure that you get the contact details of any journalists you speak to. Strangely, some newspaper companies in South Africa no longer have skeleton staff working over holidays. The best and fastest way to get factually incorrect online articles and headlines changed is to go straight to the journalist who wrote the piece.
9. Remember: trolls don’t take holidays
Make sure someone on your team is monitoring social media during annual breaks.
10. Plan for next year now
Do your scenario analysis and get your crisis management plan in place now; develop holding statemens and run trials with your team during the year.
Contact us if you’d like to chat through what your plan should include: 021 686 2331 or firstname.lastname@example.org