Six crisis management tips to lead with confidence during a catastrophe
Director, Public Relations
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You know the old saying – for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. What’s simpler than following the templated rules of rinse, recycle, and repeat?
Two words: THE CORONAVIRUS.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, our resilient and courageous first responders and medical professionals have fiercely defended our global citizens on the frontline. Corporations, brands, and organizations across the private sector have wagered a behind-the-scenes battle of their own in establishing and rolling out a crisis communications map during this unprecedented time in U.S. history. It has truly been a triage situation for so many to negate and lessen the devastating effects of this pandemic on their businesses while supporting their valued targeted audiences.
For those lucky enough to employ skilled public relations practitioners or that have engaged crisis communications consultants from the very beginning, the results have fared more favorably. For those who failed to invest in this systematic approach, a few examples speak for themselves.
Yet, in the wake of this pandemic rubble, one thing that remains clearer than the unforeseen hours, days, weeks, months, and years that lie ahead is that gone is the time where we can blissfully ignore the value of preparing for a crisis.
Whether in the wake of a public scandal involving a high-powered corporate CEO, an off-putting communication misfire to stakeholders, or, as COVID-19 has demonstrated, an epic scale of bio-warfare that has left no one immune to the health or economic threats that surround us, it’s critical to be prepared.
Yes, COVID-19 has unveiled itself to be the ultimate game-changer as an uncharted minefield and will remain as such for the foreseeable future. True, the mitigation of managing such a widespread catastrophic event goes beyond conventional, and even traditional means. But if a broader picture has been painted, it is that as a society, we have failed to invest in the preparation and strategy involved with what we ARE able to control.
Instead, as COVID-19 has exemplified, when we fail to properly take action – whether in oral or written form – or when we miss the mark because we’re not mindful or sensitive to the messaging we publicly convey, we repetitively play the blame game by faulting volatile factors at play.
Very seldomly do we shift gears and concentrate on harnessing the power within our preemptive means to deliver proactive, genuine, and effective communication. During even the bleakest of all crises, it is the ultimate responsibility of those in the communications sector to provide guidance, reassurance, and a comforting, sound voice of reason, especially when communities are in peril.
Consider this—in a recent report from PRovoke Media, of the 393 respondents surveyed, 81.6 percent of global PR firm employees indicated that since COVID-19 unleashed its devastating wrath, crisis counseling is the number one service requested from their clients. This news shouldn’t come as a rattling surprise, but what is most alarming is that the data also reveals that a whopping 5.6 percent of employees also shared that their clients aren’t electing to retain ANY services whatsoever.
How could this be? If this is the trend in the age of COVID-19, I question how distinctly different the results will be when we are no longer chained to the stark realities of living moment-by-moment in a world driven by adversity, confusion, fear, uncertainty, and pandemonium.
Preparing for a crisis should no longer be viewed within a pessimistic lens as the perpetual “exception to the rule” scenario, especially since COVID-19’s emergence torpedoed the notion that we’re exempt from actively anticipating any type of crisis, whether instigated by man or the environment. Therefore, the question is no longer rooted in the “Where?” or “Why?” – it’s the “When?”, or more specifically, “Will you be ready?”
If you’re looking for a better public relations plan for now or in the future, Contact SWBR to see how we can help your business prepare for tomorrow.