With any business, there's always the possibility of something going wrong and negatively impacting its reputation. You may have to recall your product or maybe something didn't perform as it should. No matter what created the issue, you'll have to deal with the problem quickly and efficiently to curtail the situation.
Communication is key
When it comes to addressing a public problem, the important thing is to respond immediately, preferably within 24 hours. The longer you wait the more rumors and conflict you'll have to disassemble. However, you can't communicate with your audience unless you have all the information, Fast Company explained. At the start of a situation, it's best to step back and take a moment so your emotions don't interfere with strategic and logical thinking. Gather any materials you'll need and consider both sides of the situation. From there, you can talk to other stakeholders and determine a plan.
Honesty is crucial when it comes to communicating with consumers. After you've settled on a strategy, you should be open, truthful and accessible. If you made a mistake, admit it and offer a solution, PR News suggested. If not, present evidence and still attempt to make things right. When clients don't feel they can trust you, they aren't going to frequent your business and you're going to see the funds in your business banking account disappearing. You want to rebuild confidence in your brand. Honesty is the only way to do this. Let people have access to you and other executives and humanize your social media pages – consumers don't want to talk to a robot. Put a face to the name.
The right tools for the crowd
Once you've determined a plan of action, you should address the situation on the platform that it appeared on, PR News explained. If there was a complaint on Twitter, respond via Tweet. If someone called you out on YouTube, make a video. The best place to squash an issue is in the location where it occurred. You should have a system in place that will allow you access to everyone you need in the event of a crisis. Your employees should also know what they should do in this situation – do they respond? Do they stay quiet? Make sure they know, otherwise that could cause more problems.
While you should respond on the right platform, you also need to share it to other company-owned resources. Content is useless if it's not reaching the widest audience, Dallas Johnson, chief global digital strategist for Burson-Marsteller, said in the source. Integration is key to getting the message to all your consumers. Post any response on the company's website and social networking pages. If it's on a larger scale, you should also distribute press releases to the media. The more places you reach the fewer rumors you'll have to deal with.
Public relations crises can be hindering, but they don't have to interrupt your whole business. As long as you meet the situation head-on with complete honesty and immediacy, you'll be able to come out on top.