Crisis Management- It’s All About Communication

In the past I have commented on crisis management and the tools needed to handle such crisis in today’s business environment. Of course what companies are finding out is that international crisis are harder to handle than domestic ones. Why? In today’s world, many companies do business internationally. Because of international considerations, an international crisis is harder to manage than a domestic crisis. As it is more complex, companies caught up in an international crisis have to pay more attention to international, cultural, and communication issues than they would in a purely domestic scenario. Cross-border crisis management has become very important. Therefore, an international crisis requires a number of steps, including:

• Planning for an international crisis
• Appointing an international crisis manager
• Establishment of an international crisis management team
• Knowledge of foreign situation and its impact
• Communications
• Cross-border management of the crisis

The principle focus of any crisis management strategy, especially in an international context, is communications. All crisis management plans call for effective crisis communications, which many times are not always executed. Inadequate or failed communications lead to bad publicity, unhappy stakeholders, and potential disaster. An effective crisis communication strategy is necessary for any international crisis. A number of companies failed to defuse an international crisis because of poor communications. A number of processes are need to implement an effective crisis communication strategy to manage an international crisis, including:

1. Creation of the crisis communication team.

2. Identify key spokespersons who will speak for the organization. Who are they? What are their roles?

3. Training on cultural issues, if the crisis involves other cultures.

4. Establishment of communication procedures and protocols.

5. Identify key messages to communicate to key stakeholders and groups.

6. Has a budget been approved for the crisis?

Though companies try and resolve the crisis at hand and spend significant sums of money to do so, if they fail to properly communicate to stakeholders such as the media and the public, they in effect have lost control of the situation and can expect outrage and consumer dissatisfaction to such an extent that the very existence of the company may be threatened. So remember, a company doing business internationally has to plan for an eventual crisis which may pose a threat to the company. If it fails to handle communications properly, it faces not only a potential loss of business but a negative impact on its brand and reputation.

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