There are crises and then there are CRISIS.
When 700 people were sickened last year after eating at a Chipotle’s restaurant in Ohio and the company was slapped with multiple lawsuits and declining sales across their organization, that was a crisis.
When a Florida McDonalds employee recently refused service to paramedics thinking they are police officers, that too was a crisis.
When someone leaves a negative comment on an organization’s Facebook page about poor service or product, that may seem like a problem rather than a crisis, but in an era of social media mob rule, it could easily escalate into a crisis.
So what’s a company to do? Are all crisis worthy of a pull-out-all-the-stops response? Here’s the short answer:
Sometimes it’s better not to overreact and instead take a wait-and-see approach. Last week the Public Relations Society of America posted this article I found very helpful. Some key takeaways:
- Not all bad press is worthy of a response. Sometimes taking action draws attention to an issue that probably would have been ignored. Taking the time to thoughtfully review an issue rather than taking a knee-jerk reaction, will help us respond appropriately.
- The level of response the should correlate to the level of the issue. Sometimes a simple statement on the company’s website or social channels about the corrective action taken is enough. Other times, you may have to have the company CEO issue a statement to the media.
- Know your audience. If you run a gourmet burger joint whose creations average 200-plus calories and a vegan group criticizes you, you probably don’t have to sweat it. But if Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives calls you out, you may have a crisis among your target audience.
- Use your data. How has the media responded to stories about your organization in the past? Lots of attention? Not much? Have certain topics garnered more coverage than others? Understanding past media response will help you make informed decisions.
Many, if not all organizations, should have a crisis communications strategy in place in the event that something potentially damaging to the organization should occur. This will help you navigate a crisis, respond in the most appropriate manner, protect your reputation, and avoid lasting damage to your organization. If you don’t have a crisis communications plan and would like to discuss putting one in place, please contact me. As a PR professional with 30-plus years of experience at Lux-Writes working for global, national and local clientele, I’ll manage the stress for you.