Face it, things happen and in this day and age with technology and social media being what it is, the world seems to know in a nano-second. The situations that need to be dealt with can be anything from CEO illness and death to purposeful deceit and everything in between. Therefore, you should have a crisis management plan in place so that you will be able to quickly deal with negative issues and press and have your company on the road to recovery.
While no one wants to believe that bad things will happen, in order to properly deal with critical situations, you have to plan for them in advance. First, come up with ways to avoid them. However, this will not cover every potential problem. Therefore, you should have a written plan in place that includes specific actions that will be taken if/when a disaster occurs. It should protect any individual, whether they be an employee or not, who may be affected by the crisis. It should also promise to keep key audiences informed.
In order to fulfill these objectives, you should make sure that you appoint a spokesperson. If your situation is big enough, it may attract media attention. So that your company establishes and delivers one clear, consistent message, one person must be identified and prepared to answer questions and participate in interviews. If your company has a contract with a pr agency, this may be best handled by them.
Whoever is appointed to speak for the company in a time of crisis must be open and honest in order to help stop rumors from being spread and the media frenzy from spreading. Furthermore, this person is also charged with keeping employees informed so that business can run as normally as possible.
Your crisis management representative or your public relations firm is also charged with making sure both customers and suppliers are well informed so that they continue to do business with the company.
In order to make sure that everyone is well informed, it is best to update early and often. Do not allow rumors to fester before addressing them. If possible, address them beforehand so that they do not have time to spread. Be sure to include several social media channels when addressing the occurrence as it has become the way most people communicate.
Once you have addressed the situation, you need to implement a turnaround strategy so that the company can move on. It should include taking responsibility even if it is not yours to take and showing how your business will do better in the future so that the problem does not reoccur. Of course, you cannot prevent the death of upper-level management; you can have a plan to quickly have someone cover that position so that business does not suffer.
It is not the crisis that defines your company; it is how it is dealt with. You can lay down and let it devour you, or you can stand up, learn from it, and move on.