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11 Do’s & Don’ts of Crisis Communication

Whether you’re in business or politics, crises are inevitable. That’s just a fact.

Accidents and terrible situations are going to occur, but how you handle those situations could not be more crucial. So, what do you do if you find yourself in a crisis? Respond quickly, effectively, efficiently and in a sincere manner.

Or you can follow the Push Digital 3 Step System:
1. Tell it all. 2. Tell it fast. 3. Tell the truth.

As attorneys and as your law firm, rarely do we have people or business that work with us when they are not facing some type of crisis.  It may be a divorce, failed contract, Car Accident, or an arrest – each one is a crisis in it’s own right.  How should you deal with that crisis?
1. DO get all the facts.

If you find yourself in a crisis, before you can even think about controlling the narrative, you have to gather ALL of the facts. Step one is talking to every single person involved. Literally everyone. Step two is all about keeping calm. Remember that there are multiple sides to every story, so try not to jump to conclusions. Step three is expect the unexpected. Work with the facts and not your feelings.
2. DO own it and apologize.

Time is crucial, so respond quickly and admit the mistake. Then proceed to apologize, again and again….and again. Be sincere and simple in apologizing, even if the absolute truth is more complicated and blame isn’t necessarily singular.
3. DO the right thing.

Even if you’re one single person or a corporation with millions of employees, morals can get messy and, for that, we have just one piece of advice: Do the right thing. Period. Then make sure your audience knows how you plan to fix it and the timeline for completing. Being open and transparent in this situation could not be more important. Don’t fake it till you make it because the internet trolls will know.
4. DON’T dwell on the mistake.

We all know the mistake happened, you owned up to it, and hopefully by now you’ve fixed it. In politics OR business, you should recognize every crisis as an opportunity, and pivot to a positive note while you’ve still got everyone’s attention. Eventually, the media and press will die down and when it does you’ve already discovered a new path to victory and your team is cruising through the punch list.
5. DO rebuild your brand.

The media and the trolls have knocked you down… and now it’s time to get back up. Rebuild the brand by looking for opportunities to prove you’ve corrected the crisis and reinforce your brand principles. Reward customer loyalty and give new customers a reason to do business.
6. DO know the battlefield.

In today’s world… the Internet is and will always be the battlefield. Every single day until forever… things don’t just go away.

1. Post Wisely – Keep your digital footprint in check.
2. Know Your Opponent – Learn from their mistakes so you don’t have to.
3. Be Relevant – Make time for making yourself and your business better.
7. DO know your opponent.

In politics, your opponent could be the very reason you’re running for public office. But in business, it could be your competitor, the janitor or a radical activist. Sometimes the real enemy isn’t clear to you or to the public. So, make sure you know who you are fighting. Define them. Understand them. Set the agenda. Expose them. Learn from them.
8. DO talk to an attorney. DON’T let them keep you from responding.

Attorneys are important to keep you out of jail… but they can also gum up the system and make it impossible for you to respond quick enough. Attorneys are risk averse. By nature, they are. “Should we take a risk, or should we NOT take a risk?” “Not.” What you are really looking for is an evaluation of the risk, not a total avoidance of it. Because, ultimately, you will have to make the call if you are in charge.
9. DON’T feed the trolls. DO feed the beast.

You won’t make Internet trolls happy no matter how many questions you answer.
1. Humor The Trolls – Comedic relief is brilliant but be careful because humor is not universal.
2. Counter-Fact The Trolls – Engage the trolls with the cold, hard facts and address the crisis head-on.
3. Don’t Join The Trolls – Don’t stoop to their level. Very rarely does corporate trolling pan out as originally intended.
4. But Do Feed The Beast – During a crisis, content is key, so be prepared and have quality items ready to go.
10. DO measure.

How often should you poll? Let us ask you this: how often are vital signs taken during a medical emergency? Constantly. That may be more often than is practical or affordable for your company, but the short answer is: measure public sentiment as often as you can. Then poll again. And again. Make an adjustment. And poll again.
11. DON’T wait until a crisis to have a crisis team in place.

There are many tips to get you through a crisis, but every single of of them relies on a solid team who is ready to mobilize the second a crisis hits, because you aren’t going to have time once the shit hits the fan. Don’t put too many cooks in the kitchen. The team must be small enough to move quickly and efficiently.

If you are trying to figure out how to handle your crisis, after the crisis occurs, it is already too late.  Be prepared to respond prior to the deed and know your attorney prior the need.

God Bless You, Your Business, and the United States of America,

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