No two crises are the same, but some guidelines apply to all types of crisis management
Crisis management is not an exact science, but there are certain steps that, when taken, are almost guaranteed to provide significant benefits. While these steps are similar in many cases, for maximum effectiveness they must be tailored to fit the situation at hand. In a recent post on the Blue Glass blog, Gina Gotthilf gave a list of practical ways to manage what is now a common occurrence: Facebook crises. A couple of my favorites:
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Sure, it’s not really a fun conversation to join but – newsflash – it will continue to take place whether or not you make an appearance. Does this mean saying “Hey guys! I know you’re pissed but let’s talk about it so we can defend ourselves?” No. Again, many other articles will state just the opposite but few focus on the practical rather than the theoretical when it comes to crisis management. The first thing that will calm down an angry mob is if you…
Even if YOU are not personally responsible for the crisis – or if the company is not directly to blame – if this conversation is taking place on your Wall then some of it was most likely your team’s responsibility. Your fans want to hear you say “sorry, we screwed up and this won’t happen again.” Find the words you find most euphonious and appropriate – but stick to this basic message.
Neglecting to take these two steps has harmed several major organizations (BP, Toyota, need I say more?) in recent social media fueled crises. By taking action early on, you gain control and credibility in the eyes of stakeholders, enabling you to spread your message and resolve the crisis as quickly as possible.
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.