The Crisis Management class of Management Communication at Lagos Business School exposed me to cases of crisis in different organizations, how they were handled and the discipline of corporate communications during a crisis. I took lessons on the importance of crisis management planning for companies and how important it is not to turn blind eye to crisis management until when it is too late.
Corporate mishaps and/or occurrences do happen from time to time. Organizations run the risk of making catastrophic mistakes that will negatively impact the organization’s bottom line if the board or management team has not prepared and practised for the crisis.
Airports and oil and gas companies, for example, have highly developed risk contingency plans and communications strategies that are extensively practised. But regardless of the sector, you work in, whether you run a small- to medium-sized business or a multinational corporation, the fundamentals of successful management are the same. “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”
Proactive communication and preparedness are the two most crucial components of crisis management. People today, especially in major companies, sadly don’t know who to trust anymore because of the atmosphere in which we live. To combat this, businesses need to be more outspoken and prouder of their accomplishments and the value they add to society. The main objective is to increase public awareness of the business and goodwill.
Significant crises generate a great deal of public interest. It is crucial to have backup plans in place so that you can address this desire before it becomes a problem. Organizations must be able to articulate their narrative to the media and other stakeholders, including employees, clients, families, and shareholders, from the onset about three straightforward things:
- What took place?
- What we are doing to improve the situation/make things right?
- Your thoughts on it (especially if people or the environment have been impacted).
Tell it all, tell it quickly, and tell it honestly, don’t stop recounting the story until the crisis is undeniably ended. When something goes wrong, you need to be heard to convey the proper feelings and justifications as best you can at the time, and you need to be seen to act appropriately. You need to put up a human face rather than a corporate mask so that people’s shock about what has happened doesn’t lead to anger. This strategy has consistently shown to be the greatest way to minimize the detrimental impact on an organization’s reputation.
Organizations should always be upfront with affected parties, other stakeholders, and the media. In other words, press conferences must be held quickly with a visit to the families. Legal and general communications requirements must be incorporated into effective crisis management plans, ensuring smooth management throughout the crisis. It is important to plan, practice, exercise, and most importantly, communicate. Should the worst occur, there are steps to be taken to control and protect the organization’s reputation. Businesses that do so suffer significantly less harm than those that don’t.