One of the things we constantly try to drive home to our clients in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, is to have a crisis communications plan in place – well in advance of any unforeseen event. The midst of a crisis is never a good time for making good decisions regarding public, media relations and social media communications.
While there are many crises that may beset your business, there are some crises that upset an entire industry. In that scenario, cool heads prevail. A crisis plan already in place and well vetted is the first step to weathering – and in some cases triumphing—during an industry-wide crisis.
Some basic steps to implementing a crisis communications plan include:
- Identifying spokespeople
- Creating basic messaging
- Implementing a protocol for media inquiries
- Implementing a protocol for social media platforms
- Sharing crisis plan with employees
When a crisis strikes your industry sector, your business may –or may not — be implicated. Sometimes a competitor’s practice creates the crisis or some outside force such as economic or trade factors.
Regardless of the cause, your business may be impacted and media may contact you for reaction. While you may want to distance yourself from the crisis, it is never advisable to ignore a media request. One way to handle an inquiry is to request questions upfront that you can answer offline instead of conducting an impromptu interview.
In some rare cases, an industry crisis may be an opportunity for your business to differentiate itself. If the industry crisis is due to a failure in processes, and your company has systems or products in place to prevent said failures, this may be an opportunity to talk about best practices. Another scenario may be that the crisis is due to economic or other factors that do not affect your particular business.
Proactively engaging media during an industry crisis is tricky territory as it is important not to appear denigrating to a competitor or exploiting a crisis to publicize your company. To do so may backfire and create a new public relations crisis for your company.
To ensure deft handling, it is advisable to contact a public relations professional to sort out the risk and benefit factors of engaging media. For more information on Marx Layne Crisis Communications, visit here.