Prepare for the worst in uncertain 2017 with a crisis plan

3 Apr 2017

“I bought your instant noodles and found a rat inside. It grossed me out. I called the number on your website and they told me to email you instead. Well i don’t have time for that so im hoping you can answer me thru your facebook page instead. Here is a picture so you know Im not lying.”

The only certainty in our increasingly complex world is uncertainty. Nothing is off-limits and few things remain hidden for long.

We all furthermore like to share and speculate like never before. With digital today bringing people closer than ever, and privacy very much a thing of the past, sensational news can spread at the speed of a WhatsApp message – whether fact-based or otherwise.

While media monitoring and social listening are a must for keeping on top of issues, and a social presence will give your organisation a voice online, a devastating event can still happen unexpectedly and catch you unawares – the proverbial “black swan”.

It could be a food safety allegation made by a customer, or a careless response made by an employee on social media. Either can cause reputational damage.

Which is why it’s important to have a safety net in place.

This safety net, a crisis response plan, will better ensure that any damage resulting from a crisis is kept to a minimum.

But a plan alone, that you can simply dust off and activate when the proverbial hits the fan, isn’t sufficient.

A champion boxer once famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Even the most robust and elegant checklist can fail when it comes to the crunch.

Common sense suggests getting in the ring early and sparring, metaphorically speaking, through testing a crisis plan. While it cannot be compared to a crisis situation for real, a drill or simulation will help uncover internal issues early. Involving different departments, from customer service to executive management, can make an important difference.

From a digital standpoint, a crisis plan should cover search and social. In the unfortunate event that a restaurant is flooded, people will go to their website looking for answers. Was anyone affected? When will the restaurant reopen? What happens to an existing reservation? And this is all assuming your website isn’t hacked. Social being social, people will go to the restaurant’s Facebook page and leave comments. They may even go to another page or forum and speculate away. And there may be a lot of speculation.

So to conclude, my PR tip is to always anticipate the worst – and put safety first by ensuring readiness.

Things can escalate quickly on social media. Make sure you're prepared with a crisis plan

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