Top 10 Communication Steps For Escalating any Crisis
#10. First, panic.
If you’ve gotten a dozen or more emails about a manufacturing defect this morning, begin by ignoring any Crisis Communication Plan the Company or you and your team may have developed in advance. Sheer panic has it’s place and now is clearly the time to FREAK out! Make sure your entire team knows this, and join together to weep openly about the problem without actually doing anything.
#9 Next, lock your office door, shut down your email program, and whatever you do, DO NOT answer the phone.
Most of the time these things: hurricanes, natural disasters that destroy your supplier’s warehouse… these things will pass in short order. Whatever you do, don’t involve other team members or provide any instructions on what to do next. The less you communicate in a crisis, the less you can be blamed for later on.
#8 Do not investigate what happened – the less you know, the less you’ll have to answer for or explain.
Think about it: if you actually have no idea what’s going on, you can’t be expected to understand or gain control of the situation. So learn as little as possible about what’s happening and just go on about your day as if nothing has changed. In fact, if you can leave at 5 on the dot, that’s ideal… and whistle on your way out the door.
#7 Don’t look ahead, just put the fire out.
Adopt a philosophy of “Marketing can dig us out of this.” (What do we pay them for, anyway?) To the best of your ability, ignore any far-reaching impact this crisis might have, and be sure to react quickly without a thought of the future. This way, your brand reputation will be sure to carry you forward. Make decisions based on what’s going on RIGHT NOW, and whatever you do, for heaven’s sake, don’t think about how this crisis might affect revenue!
#6 Ignore all social and other media, how could they possibly know what is going on if you don’t?!? (See #9.)
Make sure you never get a full grasp of how large the issue really is until it morphs way out of your pay grade. Monitoring social media is a huge no-no. After all, if there are hundreds of people talking about this issue, you definitely don’t want to know that. If the media is reacting, or if your crisis is actually spawning stories in the media, you should simply shut your eyes and ears to avoid all of that hot mess, and sleep better that way.
#5 If there’s pressure to issue a press release or talk to the troops – just go with your gut.
If there’s no one clear true message from the company, then confusion and chaos will rule the day and the crisis will be swept under the rug. There is no need to wait for the entire story surrounding the issue, your best position is 3-fold: deny, deny, and deflect.
#4 To keep control, limit your crisis communications to one channel.
I mean really, who’s on Twitter anyway?
#3 See if the situation will go away before hitting “send” on your iPad.
I mean, really, sometimes these things just take care of themselves, am I right? Wait as long as possible before communicating with anyone. Anything you write or prepare should be read and read and re-read and re-written, particularly since you have no real plan or strategy in place. You should seriously consider delaying your crisis communications in an effort to avoid communicating at all.
#2 If there is backlash on your Tweet (which you shouldn’t know anyway as we’re ignoring all media channels, remember?), ignore it, then re-tweet your own message and go dark…in that order.
Do not check in with your marketing or PR or Customer Service teams to see what they are hearing or keep an eye on your real-time media monitoring tools. After all, those tools usually show you such positive things, why ruin that now?
and the #1 way to escalate a crisis at your company…
Refuse to learn from the entire event. Do not train your leaders or managers in the event that this type of crisis happens again. You certainly don’t want them going against the 9 tips I’ve given you above – they could seriously screw up your entire lack of any kind of crisis communication strategy, causing you to actually learn how to manage or even avoid future crises. Remember, the plan is to handle everything by the seat of your pants in order to remove yourself from harm’s way at all costs (including damage to the Company).
Clearly, this is the world’s WORST crisis communication strategy! Using A Better Leader to prepare your supervisors and managers to handle any crisis will create a culture where little issues stay little and an actual crisis is handled well. To see what I mean, learn exactly what you need to know in this one minute demo of the newest A Better Leader lesson: Communicating In A Crisis.
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