The answer is…yes and no. As I heard the news this morning that Italy is in complete shutdown due to CoronaVirus, I wondered how well small businesses that may be affected by the impact of the virus are handling their crisis management.
Travel companies, retail businesses, event companies and so many more will need to be in front of their messaging before any negative news hits the headlines.
It is definitely not good publicity particularly if your business is under threat but handled quickly and efficiently, you may be able to come up with a plan and response that will not cause long-term reputation damage.
Perhaps your business may not face potential issues but any organisation or public figure that manages public relations campaigns needs to have a crisis plan in place in case of unforeseen situations. There’s two ways of approaching it.
1. An issues management plan is identifying what could possibly go wrong and have a plan in place to ensure the issue doesn’t become a crisis and/or
2. Have a crisis management plan where if it does blow out and become a major catastrophe you know how to handle it
Here is a brief checklist to an issues and crisis management plan:
- Identify anything possible that may go wrong and prepare a plan to handle the crisis
- Organise a crisis team and allocate responsibilities
- Have a spokesperson in place that will handle all media inquiries. If the media calls someone else – those calls can be directed to the most appropriate person. Make sure the spokesperson is media trained
- Do respond to the media quickly with respect to their deadlines and have all your facts and statistics in place
- Be prepared for any possible questions and negative responses
- Remain calm and tell it as it is – the truth
- In the case of an individual do respect their privacy but don’t ever say “no comment” – have some response prepared or say, “we don’t have the answer to that yet.”
- Do show concern and respect other people’s position in the crisis – those of your clients, customers and employees
- Do be aware of any legal implications before admitting any fault
- Keep media and other stakeholders informed at every step of the way
- Make an announcement and initiate a positive public relations campaign after the crisis has been averted
- Review your crisis management plan and update if necessary
I do hope you will not need this checklist and that the CoronaVirus situation does not escalate.
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Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal and professional PR to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her professional development and profile building programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.