Every company should have a crisis handbook

Every company should have a crisis handbook

Rebecca Graham

Rebecca Graham

Company scandals and crises hit the headlines on an almost weekly, if not daily, basis. Cloudflare has been in hot water recently, for instance, for the way the company handled mass layoffs. It was made worse by the now infamous video of a woman being let go by two people she’d never met prior, and the company has come under fire from the media, previous employees, and even current staff. There’s also the personal brand of Elon Musk, who continuously seems woefully unprepared for responding to criticism aimed at X (formerly Twitter).

As individuals, we’re taught that failure is an expected and unavoidable part of life, and that it’s how you deal with failing that really matters. The same mindset, really, should apply to companies. Mistakes are inevitable, and the effects can either be short-lived or they can have the potential to cause long-term damage to a brand’s reputation. As such, a blueprint of how to handle a crisis should be in place for every business – big or small.

One part of this is having a ‘handbook’ of sorts, with clear protocols and practices laid out. This could include approval processes for statements, timelines, at what point to involve legal, and hierarchies of responsibilities with who owns what clearly demarcated. Templates for statements and announcements can also be useful, helping speed-up reaction times when it matters most.

Bringing in a PR agency when a crisis occurs is one effective way of getting support and guidance. However, even more valuable is having a long-standing relationship already in place. Here’s a few reasons why that can be so valuable:

  • Skip the intros, they know you well – When you’ve been working alongside a PR partner for a long time, they know who you and your company are – the mission, values, and messaging. If a crisis hits, no time need be wasted making introductions to the company. They know you and your voice, and they can get stuck in offering support.
  • Avoid knee-jerk internal comms – If you’ve already been working with a PR team to bolster your internal communications, then rapport and trust will already be established among your employees. So, if a crisis hits, you’ll have a strong foundation in place to communicate next steps with staff.
  • Support with customers & stakeholders – Crises aren’t just bad for public image – they can be really damaging to relationships with customers and other stakeholders. A trusted PR partner can work closely with you to craft statements and strategies on how to protect these relationships in the wake of – and lead up to – a potential crisis.

These are just a handful of ways a PR partner can support when it comes to crisis comms – there are so many more. Ultimately, having an experienced and agile PR team alongside you is not only beneficial for day-to-day reputation building; it is critical for when a crisis hits and a reputation needs protecting.

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