The Brand value of any company is difficult to assess but easy to lose. Companies and organizations go to great lengths and expense to create and/or enhance the company’s brand only to see it destroyed in a few hours in a crisis.
The basics of crisis communications are:
- Get the facts and get them out as soon as possible. Most crisis issues should be addressed in less than 4 hours. Be honest and as transparent as possible. Present your case with confidence (not arrogance) and with empathy toward those who may have been hurt or adversely affected.
- Remember that a crisis is both real and abstract and it is predicated on the public’s (consumers, shareholders, employees, regulators) perception of your products, services, performance and values.
- If your company is facing a crisis you should start by admitting your mistakes, apologize for the erosion of trust that has occurred, and tell the public what it will do to rectify the situation and then actually follow through on the promise. The public is generally willing to forgive a company that has not acted with malice or tries to shift the blame elsewhere or attempts to understate the issue. If any of those behaviors have occurred, rebuilding your company’s brand reputation becomes much more difficult and infinitely more expensive.
You should also know when to handle the crisis yourself and when to seek outside assistance to deal with the crisis. You don’t get a chance to deal with a crisis the second time. Any mistake in dealing with a crisis can cost additional reputation damage, revenue and long term costs.