Your First Crisis Response

When a crisis occurs, you have to communicate in today’s instant world?

Crisis management is not an exact science. There aren’t hard and fast rules for releasing information. However, an initial response usually depends upon where a story breaks. Meaning, wherever a post first appears is where it has to be quickly addressed. You might be able to nip it in the bud. Or, at least you can provide your own side of the story. It might be your audience follows you on Facebook, not Twitter. You might want to reach a television news audience or focus on a certain blog. Use the venues that work best for you. For example, a model criticized for being too thin in an online photo used Instagram to reply to her critics.

How can you be ready?

Today, instead of the news term “if it bleeds it leads,” I believe the new standard is “if it speeds it leads.” Your best bet is to be ready before anything ever happens. You have to ask a number of questions: Do you know your key audiences? Have you established relationships across platforms to reach them? Do you have experienced responders for each outlet — both online and off? Have you determined an official hash tag so the public and media know where to follow your updates? Do you have a web page ready? Don’t assume everyone gets information the same way.

Follow these rules:

  • Get bad news out fast,
  • Don’t lie,
  • Acknowledge the problem,
  • Provide ongoing information and
  • Show sincere sympathy for those affected.

If there is any good news in our instant world, crises have a limited shelf life. A crisis is a reality show that fades when the next crisis episode comes along. But even off the radar, the public has made judgments. Bad news scurries through our collective consciousness. The question is: what do you remember about a crisis episode? Would you manage it differently?


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