Be Crisis Ready
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.