Imagine you are relaxing at home preparing dinner with the evening news on in the background and your appetite is ruined when you are blindsided before you can sit down to eat by news that your business is involved in a PR fail of huge proportion. An employee is caught in a scandal or your business partner is mishandling the books or the business has been hit by a lawsuit that makes national news. Maybe an intern somehow leaked passwords to social media accounts and they’ve all been hacked, along with critical business email that uses the same password! Time to enter crisis mode. Make certain that blog logins are changed if hacking is suspected.
Public relations professionals strongly recommend quick responses to a crisis and due to the speed that social media chatter spreads, it’s critical to have a plan in place to address several areas of business that could be affected by a PR crisis. Transparency is also important where possible. The best platform to address a crisis is the company blog. You can update it as things evolve and take those posts straight to your business social media channels so that customers, journalists and partners can review status and see links to the blog as you make updates.
The prevailing opinion about “what to do” during a crisis is undoubtedly that the company should own up to what happened and be transparent about the entire situation — at least that’s what most customers would tell you . .. The impartial nature of research often leads to answers we don’t want to hear, but fortunately, this time good intentions align with positive business results. According to a study from Stanford, companies who admitted to their missteps were often rewarded with higher future stock prices. Now, this study was quite biased towards the corporate world and to stock evaluations, but the lessons from the research are quite applicable to small businesses. — Gregory Ciotti at HelpScout
Everyone can recall business scandals involving major companies and we all know it can strike close to home at a small business as well. So be prepared and know who will be responsible to blog your company crisis. That may involve the person owning responsibility for the blog working from the kitchen table late at night or at the office near the end of the business day – but it will go much more smoothly if you know who is handling the blog and who the source is on the executive team for statements. Updates are important, so be prepared to edit the post repeatedly through the crisis with information that is clear and thorough. Label the updates with times and be transparent about any changes made.
Move each update to appropriate social media channels and always link back to the “official blog post” making more complete statements. Some of these tasks may be handled by a dedicated PR Crisis Team or outsourced, depending on company size and structure. Regardless of damage done to the business by the crisis, your company will be perceived as more open, honest and trustworthy if you quickly respond by blogging and following up with social media to keep your company blog as the trusted source for status updates.