Actions speak louder than words during a crisis
The way your organization communicates during a crisis is important, but how it fixes the underlying problem will be what determines its reputation in the long run. Those that choose to merely give lip service to an issue are playing with fire. In a quote from a recent blog post, social media consultant Mack Collier explained how to get it done:
Even if you respond quickly and appropriately, you still have to fix the problem. People are upset for a reason, and you still need to address that reason, and correct the problem. It might not be a quick fix, but you need to let people know how you are handling the issue, and what steps will be taken to correct the problem. This is where you can use your social media presences such a blog or Facebook page to communicate to customers and supporters what your plan is for handling the crisis. But you need to have a plan, you need to communicate that plan (not every detail, obviously), then you need to execute it.
This strategy has been proven in countless crises, and social media is making it easier than ever to communicate your message to large volumes of people. By following an honest and apologetic response with a genuine (and publicized) effort to fix whatever caused the crisis in the first place, most businesses should be able to quickly get back on track.
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.]