This blog was written by Kristina Smith, Corporate Communication Specialist at Elevate Communication. Kristina is part of Elevate’s issues planning and crisis management team, working to uphold and repair corporate reputations. She also lectures and tutors on this at The University of Queensland.
How to approach a crisis
When a crisis comes knocking, how you respond is important for your ongoing reputation and business standing. Elevate’s issues planning and crisis management team is part of our corporate communication service offering and is well versed and well skilled in how to manage a crisis situation. We keep your reputation at the forefront of how we approach crises.
Crisis management framework
Using a crisis management framework through a lens that places the human element at its epicentre allows Elevate crisis specialists to have a considered and empathetic crisis management approach.
5 steps of crisis management
1. We advise our clients to always build adequate capacity within their criss ‘stand-up’ team
This team will be your core people that need to contribute to any crisis response. They will include your expert external specialists (Elevate), your subject matter experts from various parts of the business, your front-line manager that oversees your customer service employees, your core leadership team, and your communications and engagement team. You need enough people in this stand-up to be able to cover others in times of illness or even when they need to just eat a meal.
2. Get your support crew ready
Your stand-up team need support. If you are in the middle of a protracted, intensely scrutinised crisis then you need a support team to help you with the basics. The support crew should be available to keep the stand-up team fed and watered, to run errands, to print documents, to gather materials, to recharge laptops and phones, and to calmly assist wherever they can.
Nothing can prepare you for the real thing; but you can get fairly close with scenario-based crisis simulations. Give your team a taster of what a real crisis response feels like with a simulation that will put them through their paces while not having to wait for the real thing or deal with real fallout.
Prepare everything! Contract us to develop your issue management plan so you are far more equipped to manage a crisis. Know who will stand-up in the event of a crisis; know who your key stakeholder contacts are; know who are specialists that you can call upon in the event of crisis (cybersecurity / IT specialists for example); prepare a register of potential risks and a communication notification table that identifies who needs to be communicated with under which circumstances; identify a range of scenarios and then work with us, as your crisis communication specialists, to come up with your prepared responses that can be tailored with specifics if or when a crisis eventuates.
5. Never forget the human-touch
The tentacles of a crisis stretch far. While your company is in the crisis epicentre and you’re hyper-focused on what’s happening to you and the mechanics of responding, there are other people affected. These people are your current and potential front-line employees, business partners, customers, stakeholders, clients, and audience. Media amplify any perception given (by you or any loud voices filling the void) and the reach is enormous.
Lost in the mechanics of dealing with a crisis can be the human-touch—recognising the emotion that is stirred in people not in the epicentre is key to how to respond.
Our crisis response team recommends approaching crises with a considerate and empathetic filter—asking questions such as, ‘if I had invested my life savings in this company and my financial data had been breached, how would I feel?’, or ‘if my child was involved in that bus crash, what would I want to know now?’.
Asking questions like these, puts you in the shoes of your employees, business partners, customers, stakeholders, clients, and audience, and once you take a step in their shoes you can better communicate with them.
This is why semantics matter in crisis communication. The right phrase is always needed and an urgent tone or empathetic voice or secure presence takes time to craft, hence why preparation is your best friend.
If you would like to get prepared with your issue management communications plan or find yourself facing cybersecurity issues or if you’re in the middle of a corporate crisis, please email us and our Corporate Communication crisis management team will quickly be in touch. Contact Elevate’s Corporate Communication Director Josh Stengert at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.