5 Crisis Management Tips: How to Bounce Back in the Age of Cancel Culture
In the age of cancel culture, all it takes is one social media faux pas, snarky review, or reactive employee to land you in hot water and rip that hard-earned reputation right out from under you.
That’s why it’s important to be prepared with proactive crisis communications and management plans so that your company can react quickly and recover fully. This might include hiring a public relations firm to handle your reputation or crisis response.
What is a Crisis?
A crisis refers to an extraordinary event, rumor, or story with the potential to affect someone or something’s reputation, image, or credibility in a negative way. No matter the circumstances, a crisis can strike any organization at any time, putting an individual, company, product, or industry in jeopardy.
These situations can be any kind of legal dispute, theft, accident, or allegation that could be attributed to your company. It can also be a situation where, in the eyes of the media or general public, your company did not react to one of the above situations appropriately.
This definition is not all-encompassing but rather is designed to give you an idea of the types of situations where you may need to follow a crisis management plan. Reputation and economic survival are at stake, therefore, the more prepared you are, the better the chances that you can survive a crisis.
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Age of Cancel Culture
Cancel culture is nothing new, but it has been amplified with the growth of social networking sites. Social media platforms have become an outlet to ‘cancel’ brands, public figures, or companies due to offensive or controversial behavior, and news–fake or not–travels faster via social media.
“Cancelling” individuals and organizations because of their problematic ideologies allows the public to hold the parties involved accountable, but where do we draw the line? When is it taken too far? And how does someone recover?
What To Do
Establishing a crisis management plan will ensure you have the right people by your side to manage and work through any given crisis. Whether you are a planner or not, developing a crisis management plan ensures you are prepared to successfully respond to any emergency. If crises are handled correctly, the damage can be minimized. So why risk being unprepared?
Developing a Crisis Management Plan
Having a crisis plan is like buying insurance. Nobody wants to spend the money or invest the time until a crisis happens, and everyone panics because they don’t know what to do and wish they had something to fall back on.
Developing a crisis management plan ensures that all team members know the specific steps to take and the appropriate team members to engage, so you have a swift and calm response if a crisis strikes.
Your Crisis Management Plan
Develop your company’s crisis management plan before a crisis strikes. Your designated PR representative will help to establish the right plan for your company and the potential crises it may endure.
A series of hypothetical situations that could occur that might impact your industry, products, or services will provide the foundation of any multi-pronged crisis plan, and a separate action route should be developed for each scenario.
Your crisis management plan may include, but is not limited to:
- Call/media inquiry log
- Contact information for your crisis management team
- Key stakeholder contact information
- Company backgrounder
- Response timeline & Incident timeline
- Media release statement
- Employee support
- Customer helpline
- Frequently asked questions
5 Steps to Handle a Crisis
Identify the Crisis
When a potential crisis arises, the first thing you should do is contact the appropriate team members, including your PR/crisis management team and legal teams if necessary.
It is imperative to gather all relevant information and prepare a crisis fact sheet. The quicker you assess the scope and nature of the crisis, including the potential damage, the quicker you can implement the crisis management plan.
Appoint a Spokesperson
Whatever your company’s strategy is, it is important to designate a spokesperson who has the authority to speak for the entire company that the media can trust. Likewise, it is critical to designate someone to continuously report to the entire organization and be available for all questions.
Throughout the crisis, it is fundamental that the crisis management team communicates with the company’s key public. Some of which include, but are not limited to, employees, shareholders, board members, and/or government officials. Communicating internally first will ensure that the entire team is prepared to resolve the issue at hand.
Communicate Clearly, Quickly, and Frequently
Companies build credibility by addressing bad news quickly. Those who get the message out first set the agenda. When misinformation is shared, delegate your spokesperson to promptly correct and clarify particulars. Communicating with the media clearly, quickly, and frequently will help your company’s reputation.
Be Honest. Don’t Exaggerate and Don’t Obscure the Facts
Lastly, be honest, admit when you have messed up, and apologize for your actions. It is important to be transparent when dealing with a public crisis. Ignoring or covering up the truth will only make matters worse in the long run. Accept responsibility, reflect on what went wrong, and explain how you are going to fix it.
Do’s and Don’ts in a Crisis
- Do stay calm and quiet
- Do refer all media to the PR representative
- Do cooperate with the police (if authorities are involved)
- Do seek support from other staff and professionals
- Do provide information immediately to the crisis communication team
- Do make yourself reachable to the crisis team
- Don’t talk to the media without being prepared
- Don’t provide any details to clients until approved
- Don’t post anything on any social media channels, but do monitor comments and activity on your social accounts
- Don’t leave the crisis site until okayed by the police and crisis team