Businesses preparing for crises is one thing. . .actually dealing with one is a whole new game. What NOT to do is as big of a factor of what the proper responses and actions should be (Blevins, 2014). Often the situation a company faces is far more complicated and problematic than what is revealed to the public; appropriate responses to employees, stockholders, consumers, distributors, and more must all be factored into how a business deals with a crisis (Satterfield & Squire, 2012). Promptly apologizing to the public and quick action following media attention are among the most important components of crisis management, but there is much, much more to a successful handling of a crisis (Ashcroft, 1997).
A helpful list of four things that all successful crisis management should follow begins with “Message”. Mapping out key points for each group (investors, customers, etc) will ensure that the PR response is concise and will shut out damaging extra information (Satterfield & Squire, 2012). Next is “Media”; anyone involved in a crisis MUST have media training on how to deal with the press and how to perfect the timing of making a statement to the media. (Satterfield & Squire, 2012). “Monitoring” comes next, which goes beyond traditional media. Monitoring involves scanning the internet, social media, even print for anything being said about the company in question during a crisis so relevant responses or rebuttals can be made (Satterfield & Squire, 2012). Last comes “Metrics”, or having a system in place that can measure the success of crisis managements at any given point. This gives insight to what still has to be done and what can be done better in the future (Satterfield & Squire, 2012).
Crisis checklists also serve as useful methods for crisis preparation. This can include a separate area to accommodate crisis management with space for T.V’s, computers and radio (Ashcroft, 1997). Senior management practicing simulations help to sharpen skills while dealing with the media. Training customer service and other employees with direct contact with consumers and others is also an essential item; they will likely be the first to receive any calls regarding a crisis (Ashcroft, 1997).
Certain mistakes companies make during a PR crisis are worse than others; a poorly handled crisis can inflame an already bad situation. Lying to the public is one of these major mistakes (Belvins, 2014). It wipes away any sense of trust that still could have remained; lying is a temporary fix for a much larger problem. Another crisis “whoops” would be hiding, or not reacting to a scandal or crisis (Blevins, 2014). This allows external sources have complete control of the situation; not responding to a crisis takes away a company’s power and voice (Ashcroft, 1997).
What I would consider one of the most major is repeating mistakes; not learning from past errors shows a blatant disregard for the consumer and other stakeholders (Blevins, 2014). A prime example is the Applebee’s social media crisis of 2013 when a waitress posted a picture of a receipt with “$0” written in the tip section, with a snarky remark on how she doesn’t deserve the money (Thompson, 2013). She was promptly fired for violating the privacy of Applebee’s customers; the situation would have blown over if the Applebee’s Facebook page hadn’t posted a receipt with a complimentary message a few weeks prior (Thompson, 2013). The page’s followers exploded in anger, with Applebee’s retaliating with posting the same responses over and over again and deleting negative posts and blocking angry customers. The whirlwind of social media insanity could have been better dealt with if Applebee’s had learned that aggressive defense and covering up negativity made Facebookers angry the first time; surely it would make them angry following (Thompson, 2013).
No one wants to get themselves involved in a crisis, or even think about the consequences and headache of dealing with one. But obviously, not having a plan or not knowing how to deal with a problem is far worse. Every organization faces potential crises, some completely unavoidable; but with preparation for the worst and smart tactics, the company can survive with only a few scratches (Satterfield & Squire, 2012).
Blevins, D. (2014, February 17). Crisis communications: When the truth comes out—three examples of what not to do. Retrieved from https://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/article/thought-leaders/crisis-communications-when-the-truth-comes-out-three-examples-of-wh
Thompson, H. (2013, February 28). 6 examples of social media crises: What can we learn?. Retrieved from http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/
Satterfield, J., & Squire, J. (2012). Coming through a public relations crisis successfully. Franchising World,44(11), 70-71. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1220744477
Ashcroft, L. (1997). Crisis management – public relations.Journal of Managerial Psychology, 12(5), 325-332. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/215863770