Crisis Management is a Process, Not an Event.
It’s simple. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. In today’s digital era, every business owner needs a bulletproof crisis management plan that is ready to go at all times. In this post, we will look at what crisis management is and the role of PR in crisis management. When a crisis hits, it doesn’t matter if it’s a big one or a small one. The best thing you can do for your company is to have a plan, so we’ll also explore a few tips for getting started on your crisis management plan. Let’s get into it!
What is Crisis Management?
The study of crisis management originated with large-scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s. It is considered to be the most important process in public relations. In our increasingly complex business environment, one unfortunate misstep can inject your organization into the spotlight, where you’re subjected to intense scrutiny. A crisis could destroy your reputation and derail everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Mismanaging a crisis brings further harm by losing brand equity, damaging relationships with employees and customers, and diminished financial performance.
Crisis management is a process, not an event. Crisis management is how organizations respond to a significant event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public. There are two types of crises:
Predictable/anticipated crises – Known hazards and events with a high probability of occurrence but low consequences such as minor accidents or fires. These are usually handled by existing procedures such as fire drills and disaster recovery plans. During all anticipated crises, there are four elements: warning, organizational readiness, management, and response.
Unpredictable/unanticipated crises – Unexpected events with a low probability of occurrence but high consequences such as a serious accident or explosion. They are usually handled by creating an ad hoc structure to address the specific situation and people affected by it. Unanticipated crises often result in blame, lawsuits, and severe financial loss for organizations. Organizations can prepare for these types of incidents with contingency planning.
In short, a crisis can arise at any time from a variety of causes, including:
- Adverse events that take place inside an organization (e.g., death of a company executive)
- Adverse events that take place outside an organization that impact the organization (e.g., business closures due to COVID-19)
- Poor reviews, videos, live broadcasts of customer service problems, or other issues (e.g., a consumer-driven crisis goes viral)
Why the Role of PR in Crisis Management is Written in Stone
The best time to prepare for a crisis is before it happens. Once you’re in the middle of a crisis, it’s too late to start planning what you’re going to do. Public relations (PR) is an integral part of crisis management due to its role in helping to establish a company’s reputation and brand identity, both vital aspects of business success. Ideally, PR should be proactive rather than reactive. A crisis management plan formulated in advance can help ensure that your organization is prepared for many possible disasters so you can quickly and appropriately take necessary action.
PR plays a critical role in crisis management because communication is at the heart of your response, and PR professionals are skilled communicators. During times of crisis, it’s essential to provide consistent messaging across all platforms and channels—especially if your business is under fire. In addition, PR helps maintain brand integrity and promotes transparency during a crisis by working with senior management and other key stakeholders to deliver messages on behalf of the business. It’s also crucial for PR pros to monitor what’s being said about an organization online, in the news media, and through word-of-mouth.
Crisis Management Plan
A crisis management plan outlines how your organization will respond in the event of a significant negative event or disturbance. A good plan will help your team prepare for potential crises before they occur, so everyone knows what to expect if/when something happens. Crisis management plans typically include:
- A list of pre-approved statements that can be given to the press or released via social media in case of a crisis
- An action plan for how and when these statements will be released, who will release them, and who should be informed about what’s being said about the company
- Instruction for staff and managers on how to handle potential fallout from the crisis, including things like guiding customers through what they need to do next and managing internal communication, so everyone knows what’s happening
And those are the basics of crisis management. But one caveat: having a crisis management plan isn’t enough—you have to keep it updated as new crises emerge (or even before they do). The best way to develop a robust crisis management plan is to do it yourself, or better yet, call Serendipit’s award-winning PR team, so you’re always ready for anything.