There are times when a company may face unexpected problems or issues that go beyond its in-house environs and out into the public. At such times, the news media gets involved and there is increased public awareness of the issues. Take for instance, the Samsung’s phone overheating case in the year 20171. At such times, a company must come forward and address the problem one way or another. This is when crisis communication comes in. Crisis communication refers to the protocols and methodologies via which a company communicates during time of threat to its business and existence.
In handling such situations, there are certain key factors that a company must take into consideration when it communicates.
The Victim: Who is directly affected by the issue at hand? For instance, in the case of the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7s back in 2017, the victims were the customers who had made purchases of the faulty products. In such a scenario, a company’s first priority is to address the victims directly, as they are the most important party. In crisis communication, one thing a company does not want to do is overlook the victim or downplay the severity of the victim’s plight. Empathy is key; a company should always try to reason from the point of view of the victim. It could do this by listening to complaints and queries. It should also find ways to compensate the victim and privately ask for pardons.
Perception: Perception does matter in times of crisis. It is possible for a company to exonerate itself in the eyes of the law when certain things take place. However, once the way the company is perceived publicly is skewed, it goes a long way in hampering the company’s future prospects. We make the assumption that most companies want to remain on the business field for the long term. For that reason, a company should make efforts to prioritise its image in the eyes of the public.
Truth: It is crucial for a company to always speak the truth in these times. Any move to hide or cover up information usually tends to backfire because people will poke, prod and seek to uncover information through other channels. If there exists incongruencies between what the company is saying and what is being uncovered, then the company has a much bigger problem; its image and integrity are at stake. Companies are thereby urged to take responsibility for their actions.
The Press: It’s mostly in the company’s best interest to view the press as allies. One of the reasons for this is that through various media, the press can greatly influence public opinion. The company should know the format required by the press when it comes to giving press releases; and it should be done with minimal need for corrections. It should also not shy away from providing comments to questions and queries. Offering no comment itself speaks volumes and could possibly put a dent on a company’s image in the eyes of the public, as it gives room for wild assumptions.
1. Finally, Samsung reveals why the Note 7 exploded | Mashable. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://mashable.com/article/samsung-note-7-investigation-findings