Crisis Management By ‘Wait and See’
Having analysed and researched PR disasters for over a dozen years, I’ve watched brands adopt a ‘wait and see’ methodology when faced with a threatening issue.
Crisis by ‘W&S’ used to be an option but nowadays - when speculation replaces information almost as soon as any incident develops or is mentioned - it’s a poor choice.
The W&S phenomenon comes from an era – a media age – when brands had time to get crisis ready. The old days would afford them time to work through their crisis plans and engage their remote crisis management consultants.
WHAT’S YOUR CRISIS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT STRIVE TIME?
That time, literally, has disappeared. In our crisis simulations with The Drill, we’re working to an issue acknowledgement time of seven minutes! Our social media crisis exercise make the time pressures abundantly clear.
Customers, clients, the public and – more critically – the media, make their minds up about any incident, story, occurrence in the blink of an eye. Yet many crisis workshops show how brands will dally and dither while deliberating if their ‘issue’ really is a ‘crisis’.
But given that media monitoring systems can accurately indicate the strength of stakeholder sentiment on any given topic, what’s the problem with prompt engagement?
I’ve consulted in incident situation rooms where ‘W&S’ execs prefer to see how bad or tortuous a situation will become before deciding if – or how – to engage with the crisis narrative. The affected stakeholders (incl online journalists who can influence Search Engines near instantly) have no such qualms. Your crisis management simulation software should be helping your people realise the new realities of the media space.
WHO CONTROLS THE CRISIS NARRATIVE?
Given the acceleration of fact-free, agenda-driven, opinion-forming, pronouncement-making, speculation-indulging social and news media – and the influential SEO narrative that accompanies it – slow comment in a crisis is becoming the next worst thing to no comment. It can leave you out of the crisis conversation.
We reiterate to clients, get crisis ready! If you’re not IN(forming) the crisis narrative, you can’t influence it.