When it comes to your business, you should always be prepared for the storms of crisis. Facing this turbulence is inevitable. Whether it is tomorrow or 5 years down the road, a crisis will eventually come swooping in, determined to destroy everything in it’s path. How do business owners effectively prepare for crisis? These tips will help you prepare for impending, current and future online crisis.
1. Prevent a crisis before there is one in the forecast.
The most common problem with crisis management is acting like crisis will never happen. It’s coming and you need to be prepared.
Begin with identifying your current online presence. Google yourself or your organization and analyze your search results. Analyzing your current online presence can help you understand key issues affecting you or your organization and help determine the best way to prepare for a crisis. In addition to Google, the search engine Social Mention is an effective tool to help track what people are saying about you or your company across all social media platforms. The search engine collects user-generated content such as blogs, comments, events, news and videos and presents the information in a single stream.
Utilize appropriate social media platforms. Regularly updated Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts with solid followings and positive fan interactions, are likely to decrease the impact your business may take upon a crisis. Utilize social media management tools such as Hootsuite, ScheduGram or Buffer to manage and engage your social media audience.
Consistently generate positive content. High-quality content is an important element of ranking high in search engines. You must consistently churn out interesting and informative content to boost your organic search rankings. If your positive content outweighs the bad, your crisis may not be detrimental to your business.
2. During the storm.
When a crisis occurs, avoid the ‘freak out’. Utilize a crisis management plan that organizes the chaos and prepares you for even the worst of disasters.
Address the Situation. If you or your company is in the public spotlight and media uncovers the leak, this means crisis! Accept responsibility and explain what you are doing to handle the situation. Immediately tackle and correct any areas of vulnerability. Speed matters. The longer the crisis lasts, the more damage it can cause. Be concerned with negative publicity, but be equally concerned if there’s nothing in search results reflecting your name or business. If you have no digital footprint, now is the time to create it. In cases of crisis, reputation is easier to repair when customers are able to see who you are, what you do and represent.
Signal for help. Hire a PR firm or Crisis Management team who can guide you through the chaos. Companies that specialize in reputation management can provide a rapid response communication plan that effectively addresses negative online situations. They can also help you take control of your own story before the truth becomes a distorted commentary of public opinion.
3. The Aftermath.
You’ve weathered the storm, but it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. If you handled it correctly, your business may come out stronger than it was before.
Analyze the damage. Make a complete audit of what was done right and wrong during the crisis. Make copies of posts, status updates and blog comments. Determine areas of weakness and how you could have improved the situation. Continue preventative measures that will build your brand’s message and diffuse the negativity surrounding your company.
Learn. The most important thing you can do in situations of crisis is learn from your mistakes. If you haven’t already, create an action plan for when a crisis strikes again because like many storms, future crisis are bound to return. The Ethics Resource Center provides helpful worksheets your company and directors can utilize to analyze both the situation and action plans to recover from the crisis.