Today, in the twenty-first century, when social networks have become a powerful and leading media tool and every customer is a type of journalist, there is hardly any organization that will not experience a media crisis that could cause it significant damage.
In recent years there is an understanding that proper management of the media, in times of crisis, helps the organization to minimize its damage and even, in some cases, makes the results of the crisis positive for the firm and helps it grow and expand.
Crisis Eruption & How to Manage
A media crisis can break out for many reasons, from the misconduct of a manager in an organization, the failure of a service provider in the organization to a simple employee who has misbehaved.
Dealing with a media crisis includes a number of steps necessary to take control of the crisis and so that you will have the ability to manage it and not the other way around.
Crisis Management Plan
The first and most important step in crisis management – gathering information
With the outbreak of the crisis it is very important to act quickly and gather all the relevant information from all the levels of the company, management and field level, in order to produce a snapshot and understand the severity of the crisis. The more information you have about the situation, the more you will be able to understand what you are actually dealing with and the more you will have the tools to address the problems that caused the crisis.
The first hours of the crisis are critical. They will usually determine the media tone towards the organization during the crisis and how the public will treat the organization in context. So, more detailed and reliable information that will help manage the crisis through dealing with the crisis will make things easier.
Establishment of a crisis management team
Immediately after understanding the situation and the extent of the crisis, you as a spokesperson / communications consultant, must push for the establishment of a crisis management team that will include the organization’s CEO, legal counsel, the division responsible for social networking in the organization and any other role that can contribute to crisis management. This team, will determine the messages and communicate them.
It is critical that the organization’s spokesperson / consultant be present at any forum or discussion within the organization related to the crisis and its management, in order to give the communication angle and reflect to all the organization’s managers the meaning of each decision during the crisis in the media aspect.
Best practices for management
In a media crisis it is usually better to be smart than right, so it is very important to take responsibility for the crisis, to apologize for an event / act / statement of one kind or another, even when you or the organization are not to blame. The very act of taking responsibility and apologizing reduces the height of the media flames dramatically.
Responses to the crisis and communication channels
In view of the situation and the information obtained with the onset of the crisis, a number of short messages must be provided that produce an answer to the reason why the crisis broke out. It is very important that the messages are accompanied by reliable information received from the field and evidence such as videos / photos, so that the media understands that the organization understands the severity of the crisis and that its treatment is conducted in full transparency.
The issue of the organization’s transparency towards the media and the public during the crisis is a necessary step on the way towards regaining the public’s trust. If the organization, God forbid, tries to “hide” information or details that could cause damage during the crisis, it will cause enormous damage to the company and its ability to recover from the crisis.
Transparency in front of the public
During the crisis, the organization must produce a platform through which it will offer information to be made available to the customer audience 24/7 in everything related to the crisis with the relevant information it needs to know. It can be a dedicated website or mini-site to which all the relevant content in the context of the crisis and the things the public needs to know will be entered. Public participation and transparency in front of the public will cause the organization to make the public its partner in dealing with the crisis and it will win the organization great sympathy for it.
Dealing with the media when dealing with a crisis
The crisis management team needs to determine which figures from within the organization will lead the media handling of the crisis and journalists will be briefed both in on & off-the-record conversations, as well as interviews for TV shows, radio and newspaper and internet articles. It is critical to select eloquent people who “Pull Off” a screen appearance and generate empathy. You must make sure that only they speak to the media and respond on behalf of the company to the pre-determined messages so that there is uniformity in the messages.
Availability when dealing with a crisis
The organization and its managers must be available 24/7 to the media during the crisis, in order to convey the messages and control the general message. Unavailability causes a vacuum which may produce other messages that will harm the organization.
A team for managing social networks when dealing with a crisis
In the twenty-first century social networks have become a leading media tool and they can produce a lot of damage on the one hand or allow the organization to convey its messages in a good and direct way on the other hand.
It is critical during a media crisis to appoint a team that will be trusted only with the handling of social networks, which will know how to publish the set messages and of course know how to dispel negative information about the organization in the context of the crisis and raise them with to crisis management team.
We at Ran Rahav Communications have dealt with countless crisis successfully, this article is based on years of experience, hard work and dedication. Should the need arise – Rahav Communications will help you solve a crisis – big or small, we will manage it the best we can.