One of the well and truly tried and tested content marketing strategy is Communicating solutions. This predominantly works because content engagement is high with people looking for information that is useful and solves a challenge they are experiencing.
Then why does excuses crop up at times of crisis and people start blaming each other?
There are two reasons for this:
1. Weakness begins to creep inside the system as soon as we begin to view failure in a bad light.
2. It is an entirely psychological and physiological instinct to flee in time of a crisis.
While savvy leaders and communicators continue to challenge the societal norms, their understanding of trust equates to influence, a much more challenging task begins when our natural instincts are ridden with conflict and criticism.
However, organisational resilience could be built to enable communicators to respond in times of crisis by means of a more productive and effective way. Trust building starts at scratch and this groundwork in resilience within the organisation will help in better communication of solutions during a crisis.
1. Be prepared for a crisis. The plan is to have a plan before you need a plan!
As mentioned earlier trust must start from scratch and by scratch it means grassroots, therefore it must cultivate from within the organisational departments. This is important so as to make the leaders feel secure about the strategies and plans they have approved.
Having a planned strategy and tactical plan of action is imperative. These must be set in motion well ahead of time. Practicing them in a safe, simulated environment is also important to implement your crisis strategy.
Successful crisis outcomes are possible by means of direct connection with deliberate and rehearsed strategies being put into motion in a timely manner. In order to optimize narrative control, savvy brands develop crisis brand newsrooms out of existing social media.
2. Be visibly present and demonstrate genuine leadership and accountability
Having a senior individual who is active and genuine in his stance to be present as the face of your organisation proves to be one of the best ways to demonstrate authentic leadership and corporate responsibility to handle crisis.
Being visibly present from the outset gives you more than just a face to the crisis. It also:
a. Allows you to quickly assess public perception and audience sentiment
b. It enables you to quickly build relationships with the news media covering the crisis
c. It eases you into invest in what will inevitably be a long media cycle; and
d. It tells you what questions you need to have answers for.
3. Start conversations that matter
The ability to influence narrative with information of value can be attributed to having invested in the news media cycle early.
“The only thing your audience and the media are interesting in finding out is what happened and what are you doing to re-mediate the situation. Ideally YOU should be the one to start that conversation.”
Facebook Live can conjure up as a strong social innovation, if you don’t have a press conference to attend. The audience and the news media could be actively engaged via a virtual press conference which allows room for hearing statements delivered in person but also coupled with answering questions from your customers, stakeholders and the media.
4. Be honest about focusing on solutions
Crisis is not entirely out of one’s own folly, infact most times it arises out of events entirely out of our control – yet it of little importance to a customer who had already paid you but hasn’t seen you deliver your rightful duties for the payment received.
Refocus your audience and speculate on the following issues:
a. What you are doing
b. What is important to you right now (such as the safety of your people, passengers or customers)
c. Where alternative interim solutions and qualified sources of information can be found (Emergency Services for example); and
d. When you will next update everyone on the status of the crisis and where/how that will be.
The reality as we come across everyday, we are faced with a lot of crisis, and its only when we are forced to handle such a confrontation that we wonder how effective things would have been if a crisis management and communications plan had already been put in place.
This is precisely when organisations fail to exist over a longer period as business leaders fail to insulate shareholders and employees from a crisis. Offer customer solutions when problems arise and not excuses, lead the organisation to recovery.