Crisis Communications

Whether your business is big or small, it is going to encounter difficult situations that call for immediate action. Being unprepared to handle such situations puts your business at risk. Your level of preparation—or lack of it—will be the crucial factor that determines whether a crisis situation destroys a project or becomes an opportunity for your company.

A skilled, professional response in a bad situation can have a lasting effect on both your employees and your customers. If you run toward a crisis and fix it instead of running away, it can leave an indelible impression that makes you a hero in the public eye.

One of the biggest crises to ever hit a major company occurred in 1982, when seven consumers died after taking Tylenol capsules that were laced with cyanide. Johnson & Johnson made a speedy executive decision to perform a massive recall of more than 31 million bottles of Tylenol, and the company also launched a widespread investigation. Meanwhile, sales plummeted for the healthcare giant, which had previously dominated the OTC pain reliever market. Though the company and law enforcement were never able to identify the individuals responsible for the poisonings (which investigators discovered had occurred after the products left the factory), consumers remembered the widespread efforts made by Johnson & Johnson to rectify the situation and to better protect consumers in the future. After the poisonings, the company implemented tamper-proof packaging and also improved pill design to safeguard against tampering. This improved packaging became the new industry standard, and critics who had sounded a premature death knell for the Tylenol brand turned instead to praising the company for its handling of the situation.

Another notable example of a major brand recovering gracefully from a crisis was the Toyota manufacturing issue that occurred in 2010. Nine drivers died due to a manufacturing issue that caused their vehicle accelerators to become stuck. Toyota recalled 9 million cars and then offered comprehensive extended warranties to help ensure the problem would not reoccur. Because the company took care of the issue and was also publicly empathetic about the situation and genuinely connected with its customers, the brand was able to quickly recover.

Even though a crisis situation can arise at any time, most businesses are not prepared to respond to one—and that fact holds true regardless of business size. This is the reality: When disaster strikes, the issue needs to be handled speedily and efficiently. The first step in responding to a crisis is being completely open and honest with your customers. If you have a contingency plan in place, you can quickly communicate with customers via social media.

A company’s crisis management plan should clearly spell out how social media accounts will be utilized in addressing problems as they arise. Keeping the crisis contained should be priority No. 1, and your crisis plan should also focus on lessening the impact of the crisis and implementing preventative measures to ensure the problem does not spread further. If you have an effective crisis management plan in place, it will greatly help reduce the negative fallout from the event and get your company back on track much sooner. Your plan should additionally include steps that will help prevent similar crises from occurring down the road.

As it is impossible to predict how or when a crisis situation will occur, it is imperative to have a reliable team of crisis management experts available to help you. Firstly, designate an individual within your company to act as public relations spokesperson, ensuring that any issues can be addressed speedily and professionally.

Two of the most important elements during a crisis management response are speed and transparency. First and foremost, always be honest about the situation. Being upfront with your customers communicates to them that your company cares and also helps preserve your credibility.

The SmallCapRelations team is here to assist you with your crisis management needs. We will put our many years of expertise to work in creating effective and professional press releases, social media posts and other official communications. Our primary goal is to ensure your business emerges from a crisis situation even stronger than it was before the crisis began. Our experts will help you control the crisis and mitigate the impact to your business. Whenever disaster strikes, we will be here to help you successfully navigate through it.