If working in crisis communication teaches you one thing, it’s the importance of perspective. A quick scan of your favorite news channels will reveal reputation-impacting crisis comes in all shapes and sizes – natural disasters, environmental damage, product recalls, even employees in trouble with the law. Look deeper, and you’ll start to see how social media is playing a critical role. In some cases, it amplifies the crisis, and in others it’s helping a company to identify and respond to it.
At Cisco, we have a range of crisis management experts who are focused on protecting our people, property and customers. This capability is also supported by a great team of corporate communicators trained to respond in times of urgent need. As part of this team, I spoke with our crisis communications lead, Nigel Glennie about some of the tips we’ve picked up along the way:
- Preparation – Most executives and professional communicators can identify the things ALL companies and THEIR company should be prepared to handle. Why not complete that work ahead of time, without the pressure of a real crisis event?
- Process – Once you’re prepared, put an agreed process in place to identify and respond to a crisis. Having the people, resources and channels (traditional and social!) ready will accelerate your company’s response, even during situations you couldn’t predict.
- Speed – Never underestimate the value of a fast, thoughtful company response. Social media may have compressed the time companies have to respond to an event, but it also serves as a “listening post” – potentially offering you advance notice and an opportunity to head off an issue.
- Credibility – Being an active member of a community gives you a voice in that community. Many companies including Cisco, are already using social media to participate in relevant conversations with self-nominated groups of interest.
- Perspective – “Is anyone’s life in danger?” Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is yes. Remember that one person’s crisis may only qualify as a bad day for someone else. Keep your eye on the big picture and you’ll be sure to gauge the appropriate response.
If you work in crisis management or manage crisis communications, we’d love to hear your perspective. Respond to this post or email me directly at autruong@Cisco.com.