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Having a solid media crisis plan can be the difference between positively leveraging a situation thrust upon you - or having it sink you.

Media Crisis Training

Best practices of a public relations crisis have been constant. What has changed in the last five years is the availability of instant news, a speeding social media distribution, body cameras, and fake news. This immediate dispersal and sometimes myopic view of real events can turn a small event into a full-blown crisis that can decimate the reputation of a company in the court of public opinion. We have seen this time and again even in our own backyard – from the Whitecaps debacle to the Crab Park Chowdery rat fiasco.

Despite your best efforts to prevent a business crisis, sometimes they occur. Are you prepared? Do you have a well thought out plan to respond to the issue at hand, and deal with the possible media attention a crisis can bring?

At Reliance, we understand this reality. We also know how difficult it can be to do this work internally. We have unique access to the very best crisis media consultants and offer that access to clients as part of our ongoing work to ensure you are always ready, even for what you don’t want.

Be prepared, have a plan

The key to surviving a media crisis is to have a plan before a crisis occurs. Create a crisis management team with representation from all departments. C-suite executives should have an internal and external plan to handle a crisis. Discuss possible threats such as a rogue employee, a negative experience by a customer, cybersecurity breaches, harassment or product contamination.

Be responsive but not hasty

If you don’t know something or need time to investigate, you need to communicate. Responding too hastily can backfire and create a bigger crisis.

Is it an issue or a media crisis?

  • How big is the issue? Has anyone been hurt?
  • Are there privacy or security issues to be considered?
  • Does the incident negatively affect the organization or its reputation?
  • What will be the public reaction if the organization does nothing?

Tone matters

No matter how angry a customer is with your company or its products, do not reply with anger. If a person is intentionally attacking your company, invite them to contact you directly to deal with his or her issue. Depending on the situation, it may help to incorporate a little humor into your message, but think carefully about how it will be perceived.

Other tone-related tips

  • Always be polite and thank customers for their input.
    Politely correct customers posting inaccurate information, even if it is on another site that you don’t directly control.
  • Be authentic. If you are making an apology, don’t copy and paste the same bland jargon to every comment—customers will see that as being lazy and careless.
  • Humour isn’t always warranted, but it can have a powerful impact to turn your image around. Your customers will realize that people sometimes make mistakes, and a humorous message about how you plan to fix the problem can go a long way.

Follow through

As you roll out your message, analyze whether it’s reaching the appropriate people and/or having the desired results. Don’t be afraid to tweak your strategy.

Just because you have a crisis response plan in place doesn’t mean you’ll be experts when the time comes to execute. Have quarterly “crisis drills” to keep the plan fresh in employees’ minds.

If a crisis occurs, let customers know you’re taking steps to correct the issue, then share your plan. They will appreciate the honesty, allowing you to be in the good graces of your customers again in no time. And it never hurts to bring in a media strategist to help craft a well-designed plan.

Reliance Insurance is more than insurance. We can help you develop risk management strategies, shift corporate culture and assist in media crisis training.

We have unique expert solutions available as part of our ongoing work to ensure you are always ready, even for what you don’t want.

Protection beyond insurance is what we do best. Our mandate is to help you identify risks and recommend solutions.

Get a Quote Today

We are delighted with your value-added approach, forward-thinking, timely responses, and in-depth research into our needs now, and as we grow. We feel very confident in Reliance’s knowledge.

— Controller, Kryton Group of Companies


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