Be Cri­sis Ready

SLOW Magazine - - Contents -

Any­one with a tod­dler will al­ready know this tru­ism: You need to be pre­pared for disas­ter to strike at any mo­ment. If not, the tantrums and tears (both yours and the child’s) will con­tinue seem­ingly end­lessly, with no hope of re­cov­er­ing the si­lence un­til you de­velop a so­lu­tion (which is likely to take 10 times longer while en­gulfed in the chaos of the mo­ment).

The same rule ap­plies in busi­ness. we never know when a cri­sis will creep in, but when it does, it usu­ally needs to be dealt with quickly if we want to limit the dam­age. It is far eas­ier to de­velop a cri­sis man­age­ment plan be­fore­hand, when ev­ery­one is clear-headed and calm, than to try and fig­ure out a so­lu­tion while in the midst of the chaos caused by the cri­sis.

of course, it is im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict ex­actly what the cri­sis will be, and which so­lu­tion needs to fol­low. But it is pos­si­ble to de­cide who will be re­spon­si­ble for managing the cri­sis, and to de­velop an out­line of a pro­ce­dure to fol­low dur­ing this time.

The fa­mous sony Pic­tures scan­dal in 2015 re­gard­ing the de­but of the The In­ter­view, a film that de­picts the fic­tional assig­na­tion of Kim Jong-un, is a prime ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when a com­pany fails to have an ef­fec­tive disas­ter man­age­ment plan in place. Faced with an on­slaught of cy­ber-at­tacks and threats of vi­o­lence at the film’s in­tended premiere, sony Pic­tures de­cided against re­leas­ing the film. This com­pli­ant re­sponse dam­aged sony’s im­age, as it por­trayed the com­pany as un­pre­pared to de­fend its own prod­ucts against cy­ber-bul­lies.

Though it might seem daunt­ing to have the pub­lic’s opin­ion read­ily avail­able through so­cial me­dia, it ac­tu­ally pro­vides com­pa­nies with an op­por­tu­nity to build their brand and re­cover from is­sues such as the one sony faced. If sony had de­vel­oped a cri­sis man­age­ment strat­egy for so­cial me­dia be­fore the re­lease of the film, they could have been pre­pared with state­ments to back up their de­ci­sion for the mak­ing and re­leas­ing of the film.

The pub­lic love trans­parency. Com­pa­nies often make the mis­take of re­main­ing silent or say­ing the bare min­i­mum when they re­ally ought to be in con­ver­sa­tion with their cus­tomers. This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant dur­ing a cri­sis when the pub­lic are des­per­ate to dis­cover the truth be­hind the mishap.

The in­fa­mous “ex­plod­ing” Galaxy Note 7 in 2016 is another prime ex­am­ple of a com­pany not be­ing com­pletely trans­par­ent and up­front with cus­tomers. The sam­sung phones re­port­edly tended to catch alight while charg­ing, and sam­sung even­tu­ally made the de­ci­sion to re­call the line. Ini­tially, the com­pany tried to down­play the sever­ity of the cri­sis, post­ing an eas­ily-over­looked tab to their web­site rather than tak­ing a proac­tive ap­proach by alert­ing its cus­tomers in a clear, di­rect way.

In a re­mark­ably sim­i­lar case, Ford re­acted in much the same way when its Kuga Eco­boost 1.6 litre mod­els be­gan catch­ing alight at ran­dom – trag­i­cally claim­ing the life of 33-year-old Re­shall Jimmy in 2015. Ford ul­ti­mately re­claimed more than 4,000 of these mod­els owing to a man­u­fac­tur­ing fault, but re­mained tight-lipped about the de­tails of the prob­lem through­out the cri­sis.

In times like these, it is al­ways bet­ter to take own­er­ship of the prob­lem and to be as open and hon­est with the pub­lic as pos­si­ble. It shows courage and con­fi­dence to ad­mit to a mis­take. This will earn a com­pany favour when try­ing to over­come the neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity which re­sults from the cri­sis.

we never know when disas­ter will strike, and this is often what makes it so dis­as­trous. Be proac­tive and make a plan be­fore a prob­lem be­comes a cri­sis, or take your place along­side the thou­sands of other com­pa­nies who have be­come in­fa­mous in their failed attempts at con­trol­ling the calamity.

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