Since the era of the digital economy, crises have become much more common ground. This all boils down the simple fact that a corporate issue can be picked up by anyone and shared so much more easily now. Add the recent COVID-19 situation and corporates around the world are fraught with worry about how to manage an issue or crisis positively.

What has come from the recent pandemic is a greater focus on how a company operates and a need for an immediate response when something fails. Many businesses are making redundancies, cutting pay and putting people on furlough, and there’s an even greater focus on diversity. The difference between negative and neutral or occasionally positive press is how a company approaches the situation.

So how do you manage a crisis or issue with all of your stakeholders, and how can you come across as positively as you can in the face of negativity?

1.     Tone of copy and sense of urgency will separate winners from losers

Your speed of response, level of honesty and compassion are the most important things following an issue or crisis. The best thing you can do is to get ahead of any issues and have ab action plan prepared for likely scenarios. Hold onto it so all you need to do is adapt to the situation and go.

The worst thing you can do is let press or people on social media discuss your issue for too long without you having your say. If you are still investigating the issue, let everyone know. Share your compassion about those affected and be honest about what you will do to get past the issue.

2.     Rely on fact and ensure the business puts in real measures to change

Bring in your legal team, do an investigation and rely on data and fact before making any strong statements denying or admitting to something as it may come back and bite you.

Work with the business leads related to the issue to understand what went wrong, how you could do better and put in place firm processes to ensure change happens.

3.     It always looks worse when in the storm, but it’s important to remember it will pass

Try not to get too emotional about it as it could cloud your judgement. This is why bringing in an external party to give their opinion is often useful. Companies can become defensive when someone is criticising their company, which is when an independent view is key here to avoid a knee jerk reaction adding fuel to a fire.

How a company handles any issue relates directly to hiring future talent, winning clients and growing a business, so having a crisis and issues plan and a good external contact you can call upon is vital. Then when an issue arises it will feel more like putting out a fire than fighting an almighty blaze.

Photo by: Brodie Vissers