7 keys to managing an image crisis
Daniel Colombo, one of the most recognized coaches in Latin America, shares with us a column where he advises on how to handle at a time when Covid-19 threatens the good reputation of a company
Just as in life, a crisis that bursts into a company or business - however small it may be -, if well managed, can become a learning tool. The key is to be prepared and advised by professionals.
In these cases, improvising is not an option, since collateral damage can be even greater than the crisis itself.
Any business or entrepreneurial activity, small or large, like a person in any field, can suffer an image crisis that will affect their reputation and credibility.
To manage it properly, you must start to know the internal and external vulnerability aspects of the activity, establish certain management protocols and plan as well as possible.
What is a crisis
Crisis is defined as any type of event that puts at risk the operation or reputation and image of a person or company.
The negative impact that this episode has on the internal and external public determines its severity and extent of damage. Therefore, good crisis management seeks, above all, to mitigate the damage that may occur and channel the impact towards the lowest possible cost of destruction.
An accident, malpractice, spoiled food, insects and rodents in a restaurant; a fact of insecurity in a company; reformulations of a business; an environmental disaster; complaints from neighbors on any subject; a "dirty rag" of a person; Improper photographs, rumors, a scandalous separation, scams, corruption, leaks of confidential issues: these are examples of crises that companies and even small businesses can face, and also people who perform with public visibility.
In any case, if victims have occurred, the first thing to do is to show solidarity and convey condolences very clearly. In addition, all financial, human and management resources must be allocated to accompany suffering people for the maximum time that allows them to regain their integrity and overcome losses of any kind. Build a team of experts: Don't rely exclusively on your intuition, or let only certain professionals take over these tasks, to the detriment of other disciplines.
In crisis management, a series of variables are articulated that, combined, can reduce the negative impact. Regardless of whether it is not possible to avoid having to face it forcefully and decisively, the fact of keeping it quiet, or wanting to hide it (as many organizations frequently do) does not mean that the crisis has been well managed. Here is a practical guide:
Get ahead. It must be recognized that any activity is prone to crisis is the first step. It is required to design a strategy to face different scenarios, and from there, the courses of action.
Accept what happened. It does not serve to deny it or want to transmit confusing or dilatory messages, or biased to what, apparently, would matter to the company or person. If there is a crisis it is that something happened.
Crises must be answered from the first hour. Many companies and people believe that the hours must pass. Today's world, with the viral power of social networks and connectivity, does not work that way. At most the first signs of acting in the crisis should occur if not immediately, no later than the first hour.
Form a crisis committee. In companies and individuals, a permanent team must be ready, which will be activated at any time. They generally love being led by a lawyer; Although it is not always the best choice. The best thing is a mix of professionals to be able to receive the pertinent advice to mitigate damages.
Establish crisis protocols. These are established procedures to be followed by members of the crisis committee and all work teams (direct and indirect, for example, freelancers working for your project or professional career). The communication must be clear, forceful and take into account the facts as objectively as possible.
Organize internally the crisis management. After having the protocol, levels of responsibility will be established to face the situation. There will be a small group that will make all the decisions; leaks and spontaneous or proper transcendents of the vertiginous problem will be avoided; and the different variables of evolution of the crisis will be controlled.
Monitor their development. Monitoring is essential. Not only must the transcendents or sayings on social networks be taken into account, but what is amplified by the media, neighbors, workers, suppliers and indirect relationships. This aspect is essential to unify a message that is the only one from the side of the company or the person, to avoid distortions (which, in any case, are going to happen). What happens is that, if it is not worked with consistency, the deviations will increase the damages.
Prepare the appropriate communication according to the state of gravity. In companies with certain types of contingencies, communication models can be prepared, the recipient lists, the shipping methodology, the use of the language pre-approved by the crisis committee and the specialists, and all the support elements that help a greater speed and consistency in communications.
More information at www.danielcolombo.com