Effective Crisis Communication for Disappointing Situations

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    Managing Disappointments: Effective Crisis Communication

    Failing to live up to stakeholder expectations is one of the quickest routes to reputation damage. Compounding this is the fact that sensation sells, meaning reporters, reviewers, and bloggers are happy to crank up the drama in order to draw more readers.

    Just take a look at this quote, from the viciously titled TechCrunch article by Josh Constine, “Vine, The App That Eats Your Precious Memories”:

    No app has ever broken my heart quite like Vine, Twitter’s six-second animation maker. You capture a scene, then pocket your phone while you think of a witty way to describe it. But when you open it a few minutes later or the app randomly crashes, it’s gone. That moment, that memory, deleted. I still love Vine, but I’ll never forgive it for the visions it stole from me.

    Consumers are demanding satisfaction like never before, and it’s your job to give it to them. If you’re advertising yourself, as Vine does, with the tagline, “the best way to see and share life in motion,” then your users better be able to multitask while they’re using your app.

    The same goes for any industry, grocery shoppers expect their food to be safe to eat, car buyers presume their vehicle will perform as advertised, and the list could go on forever.

    The bottom line is that failing to meet expectations WILL result in a backlash, and it’s more and more likely that this backlash is going to be blasted across social media and the ‘net when it comes, drawing hundreds, thousands, even millions of eyes.

    Now, even if you’re doing your best, at some point this is going to happen. What does Crisis Management 101 dictate you do in response?

    Simple, fix it! Make the changes your stakeholders are demanding, and invite the same people who were feeling negative to give you another try. If there are things you just can’t change, explain why! Who knows, you may even be able to crowdsource a solution (for free, no less) from one of your stakeholders.

    What you don’t want to do is bury your head in the sand and avoid the issue, because it’s not going away on its own.

    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 Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]