Crisis Management- Its All About Communication

April 7, 2015
Closed business

Closed business

Crisis Management- What is Your Communications Plan?

In the past I have commented on crisis management and the tools needed to handle such crisis in today’s business environment. Failure to properly handle a crisis may lead to the business closing its doors as in the picture to the left.  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 a crisis manager
  • Establishment of a 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 contest, 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. Or for lack of better words, a failed communciations strategy.

Look at some of the crisis in the past which were not defused properly because of a lack of attention to communication- Toyota, perhaps being one of the more recent. Though Toyota spent time and money to find out the issue surrounding the brake issue, its failure to communicate in a timely fashion lost the goodwill of many customers and hurt the brand.  An effective crisis communication strategy is necessary when dealing with an international crisis.

A number of processes are need to implement an effective crisis communication strategy to manage an international crisis, including:

  • Creation of the crisis communication team.
  • Identify key spokespersons who will speak for the organization. Who are they? What are their roles?
  • Training on cultural issues, if the crisis involves other cultures.
  • Establishment of communication procedures and protocols. Who communicates to whom and why?
  • Identify key messages to communicate to key stakeholders and groups.
  • Has a budget been approved for the crisis?
  • Have the facts surrounding the crisis been established?
  • How will the company use social media?
  • Identify third party consultants that can add value to the communication and PR process- whether it is a PR Communications firm or a third party company.
  • Has a communications war room been set up to handle communications?

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 the media and the public, they in effect have lost and can expect outrage and consumer dissatisfaction to such an extent that the very existence of the company can be threatened. This is particularly so for cross boarder crisis as the failure to manage international communications can lead to cultural issues which play out in the press or on social media.    So remember, a company doing business internationally has to plan for an eventual crisis which may pose a potential 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 unintended consequences.

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