A crisis communication plan is designed to do one thing: Provide everyone with a roadmap when the business gets a bit of negative news – including work accidents, public incidents, poor reviews, negative social media reactions, hate mail, and more. You can target specifically at social media disasters, at hacks or theft, at specific work events, or whatever your "crisis" may include. But your business should at least have an online component to avoid some of the bad publicity fallout! Here are the top reasons why a crisis communication plan is more important than ever.
1. News Travels Instantly These Days
It doesn't matter of it's a car crash, an unflattering photo, or a bit of industry news – everyone may end up knowing about it. Social media can spread the news of the just about everything immediately. Email and texting can do a lot of work too. You can't on any bad news dying away or taking a long time to reach your community. And if the news travels fast, that means that your response has to be fast too. A crisis communication plan can help you with this!
2. Someone Needs to Coordinate Responses
In other words, you need a designated crisis leader to decide how to respond, what message to send out, and what to do about any further issues. This is particularly important, because without a leader to coordinate everything, as a crisis grows a business might several different, conflicting messages that it tries to put out. Or, perhaps even worse, people may be too busy blaming each other to respond at all. A designate leader, on the other hand, can control the situation.
3. You Need to Know When It Becomes a Problem
A crisis communication plan also helps you decide whether a bit of negative news is a problem or not. If you're not sure how to measure this, Hootsuite has a handy social media guide that you can follow. Basically, if "negative mentions" on social media are coming in, especially at an accelerated rate, then you need to take action. Be prepared to search for mentions of your brand following one of these potential crises so that you can accurately measure this.
4. The Effects of a Crisis Can Last for Years
You can't erase all data from the internet. And these days, thanks to highly effective search engines, even problematic incidents that happened years ago can appear fresh before the eyes of prospects as they Google your business. That's why your responses and containment need to be present as well. And yes, that absolutely includes requesting that incorrect news or troll reviews be taken down so that they don't have any future effects.
5. You May Not Know There's a Crisis Otherwise
How would you know? When it comes to comments, reviews, and bad news, you may not even notice the issue before it's too late. Even a few hours can have some pretty bad effects on your brand (see above warning about the news traveling fast). Part of a good crisis plan includes alerts and watchful eyes on social media that will help you notice if anything is wrong. Worried about manpower? Today's tools allow for plenty of automated alerts! It's time to put them into practice.
6. You Need to Know How to Communicate Before It's Too Late
By "how to communicate" we mean specifically what platforms to communicate on, which sort of message to send out and from whom, and how that message should be direct – to one person, a group, or everyone. If you aren't sure about any of these steps, well, that's where a crisis communication plans comes in handy...and why it should involve the top levels of the company. A message from the boss can be very effective when dealing with an incident.
7. Crises Can Teach You a Lot About Your Brand
Who gets mad at your brand when they hear bad news? What legitimate complaints do people have, and what complaints do people like to make up? Which accidents affect brand performance, and which don't seem to have an effect? You can easily see how response and close study of crises can tell you a lot about the brand, your audience, and how to market effectively in the future.