Crisis Management: 9 popular crisis mgt tips that sometimes don’t work: Crisis response
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Sage journalist H.L. Mencken said that and it applies to crisis management.
Almost every typical philosophy for crisis resolution can be wrong: what helps here, might hurt there. In this vein what follows are popular strategies that sometimes – sometimes – don’t work as well as their opposite.
Speed saves – Occasionally doing nothing is best. Overreaction can call unnecessary attention to a situation. The key to speed is not necessarily acting fast, but deciding fast.
Tell it all, tell it now – Again, sometimes sitting back and waiting to see whether anybody’s paying attention is better than hanging out dirty laundry for all to see. This does NOT apply if there is a legal, moral, ethical, regulatory or leadership reason to go public. If you take the wait and see approach be sure to have a contingency plan in case your dirty little secret comes out. Often, it won’t.
The plan’s the thing – Often the team is the thing. The best plan for trouble is only as good as the team that implements it. Actually, they go together. Avoid shirking either.
Social media will drive your crisis – About 80% of the crises I handle are still mostly dictated by what the traditional media are doing. Social media are involved but largely feeding off the big guys. Communicate well with mainstream media. Importantly, keep monitoring social media 24/7. In some cases they are where the real problem lies.
Issue a press release – Actually at times the best approach is to write a statement and give it only to those who inquire about your problem. Why send comments about your issue to everyone if not everyone is interested? You might just fire up avoidable noise with a news release blast to all media.
Have great talking points – I’d prefer you first catalogue the answers to the worst-case questions you’re likely to be asked. While talking points give important focus to comments your credibility rests on your ability to answer tough legitimate questions.
Never go off-the-record – In some situations where you are dealing with a journalist who’s gained your trust and you need to explain why your organization is doing something that makes no outward sense, go off-the-record. On occasion, if you are forthcoming and transparent and the situation truly doesn’t warrant a story, you can persuade the reporter to drop it. The keys are honesty on your side and earned trust on the other.
Never say “no comment” – Well, yes, don’t say those words, for Pete’s sake. However, there are clearly situations when it is not to your benefit to say anything. So don’t. Just be darned sure you have thought through the pros and cons with your team to ensure this is the right tactic. Usually it is not.
Always respond to an attack – Actually ignoring it can sometimes lower the heat, reduces the attack profile, and trouble fades for lack of fuel. This applies to troublemakers and rabble-rousers, not legitimate complainers, although anyone can make your life a living hell.