It can take companies years to recover from financial loss and rebuild trust with stakeholders. The worst turn into a “remember when” story, referenced again and again as the years pass.
Remember when United Airlines dragged a passenger off a plane? Occurring just the year, we have a feeling this will remain in conversation for some time. The upside to this crises and to many out there is how the company and their PR representative or team handled it. Initially, this was viewed as a #fail due to the accompanying video. Looking back now, they did issue a statement swiftly issued a statement and have taken steps since, publicly, to enact change in how events like this are handled in the moment. But, here we are six months later and United’s top communications executive is stepping down.
The frequency with which businesses need to manage crises is increasing. With social media, they can spread like wildfire making the general public more aware of them. Regardless, 30% of CEOs say they expect to experience more crises over the next three years according to a PwC study. This suggests it would be helpful to have a crisis management plan prepared and a communication professional or team prepared to enact it. Even better, being able to recognize any of the seven types of crisis triggers can better serve you and your strategic planning.
However, crises are not cookie cutter. Some companies will face media backlash, which can influence opinions and ignite an even larger battle. The good news is there’s often a chance to get back up. Rebuilding a reputation and gaining back trust is possible, but it does not happen overnight.
The old political maxim, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing,” fits here. Stakeholders and publics want an explanation, but what they want more is to see a company taking ownership, apologizing, and rectifying the situation. The same PwC study shows 55% of CEOs feel most vulnerable when communicating with external stakeholders. Feelings aside, the first step is to address a situation and explain any steps a company will take to avoid a repeat problem. A company should share its post-crisis message both publicly and internally, outlining specific measures being taken.
As the dust settles, a business will want to take necessary precautions to prepare for another crisis. It’s common practice for most CEOs who previously experienced a crisis to proactively plan for another, but why wait until after it happens. An agency can craft a plan around specific potential triggers in advance of any crises.
Patience, perseverance, and having a right plan in place gives a business the best chance to restore honor and credibility. If you want help planning, shoot us a note.