What is Crisis Communication?
Crisis communication refers to a set of strategies that aim to manage a potential or current challenge to your company’s reputation. The purpose of crisis communication is to defend your image against a variety of allegations and to limit the damages incurred as a consequence of a crisis. Crisis communication activities include researching crisis contexts, preparing relevant press releases and press conferences, liaising with the media and other stakeholders, but also maintaining team spirit through internal communication tools, such as newsletters. A crisis communication plan can be useful to companies that are not likely to incur a crisis in the near future. Companies can handle their crisis communication on their own but they can also rely on the expertise of PR companies.
Has another competitor accused you of stealing their intellectual property? Is a former employee accusing you of dismissing staff on religious or marital status criteria? Have your customers been posting negative reviews of your products on Facebook? These are all serious threats to your reputation, whose damaging effects can only be curbed through effective crisis communication. Are your sales going down because you are allegedly using harmful material or prohibited ingredients? Is your company under public scrutiny because some bloggers have been arguing that you are manufacturing your goods in sweatshops? Aside from taking any legal action that may be appropriate, you need to communicate properly about your issue before your reputation and your sales are permanently damaged. The mere victory in a lawsuit may not be enough to re-establish your good reputation with the general public, which is why proper, consistent communication is of the essence.
Before a crisis actually occurs, PR companies can help you research and collect information about current or potential threats to your reputation. Based on that information, they can create a crisis management plan, as well as press release templates to be used in case of a crisis. During a crisis, as part of the crisis management plan, PR companies can include specific strategies to deal with your various types of audience, including the press. After a crisis, PR companies can help you understand the roots of the crisis, and they can also help you prepare for better crisis management in the future, by assessing your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By investing in crisis communication plans, you are taking a step forward in the direction of protecting your company’s assets and reputation. You are also showing your customers and the general public that you take your business seriously. Last but not least, you are contributing to a more accountable business environment.