You just got a call that there are reports of sexual harassment at your company, there is a government agent at the door with a warrant or (insert your worst nightmare here). What do you do now? If you haven’t given crisis planning much more than a passing thought, you could be at risk for making one of the six worst mistakes crisis management response:
- Waiting until a crisis happens to figure out how to respond. Indecision, conflicting opinions or a poorly chosen spokesperson can unravel even the best intentions. While it’s rarely possible to address all aspects of a crisis immediately, web-based reporting and social media makes a quick response critical. Don’t give someone else the chance to tell your story.
- Using your CEO as the spokesperson, no matter what the issue. Make sure you have a bench of trained spokespeople to choose from, and save the CEO for the more serious crisis events. Remember that anyone you put in front of the media should be able to demonstrate compassion and the ability to answer difficult questions.
- Getting defensive. When faced with difficult questions or allegations, defensiveness is often the most common response. But when this scene plays out on a public stage, constant rebuttals and trading insults only incites and prolongs media coverage.
- Making any of these statements: It was not my intention. We don’t know how to fix it. There are no next steps at this time. I’m sorry people feel that way.
- Refusing to take any responsibility. Maintaining credibility during a crisis requires at least some level of transparency. Historically, companies have been reluctant to do so because of fear of litigation. Tread carefully but remember that the public, and your employees, expect honesty.
- Telling the press “no comment.” You may not be aware of all of the details surrounding the incident in those early hours but acknowledging what you do know – and where you will go from there – can go a long way in preserving trust.
Are you crisis ready? Download our Crisis PR eBook to find out.