Crisis Communication 101

The PR crisis that has hit United Airlines is the perfect opportunity for all companies and organizations to review their own crisis communication strategies and plans. Thanks to mobile recording devices and apps, any incident can end up on online platforms and social media in a matter of minutes, turning a local situation into a global PR nightmare. Time is of the essence and actions are key to minimizing the damage.

1)     ACT

Get ahead of a developing story if you can – even if it’s just with a short statement; your own words and view will give you an advantage over other people’s/media outlets’ opinions on the matter

2)     If it’s already out there, REACT IMMEDIATELY

Start with a statement and then follow through with the rest of your crisis communication plan

3)     Be HONEST and TRANSPARENT

Apologize if mistakes have been made and outline how these will be rectified and avoided in the future. We’re all human, everyone makes mistakes – what differentiates us is how we deal with them

4)     Have a CLEAR, SIMPLE MESSAGE

Don’t try to hide things, don’t beat around the bush

Make sure your main message is the same for both internal and external communications – don’t communicate one thing to your staff and another to the media or your customers

5)     Keep your STAFF INFORMED

They should not first read about the crisis (or its subsequent developments) on third party channels

6)     STAY RESPONSIVE throughout the crisis

Consider what others say and write; react in real-time

Continue to provide any necessary/new information to all parties

Offer proactive information (services) to your customers if possible

7)     Use all available communication channels

Don’t change the message itself, but do adapt it to accommodate various platforms and audiences (length, style, etc.)

 

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