A recent article in the CPO Agenda on what to do when the CPO gets a request for quote had a great guide on what you should to do when responding to a crisis that is worth a quick review. The five simple steps it put forth can mean the difference between a minor disruption and a major crisis. Simply put, these steps are:
- Consult the Plans
Specifically, consult the internal response plan and the external communications plan. Then contact the communications team, who should be clearly listed in the communications plan, to update them on the situation, even if their services might not be required (which will be the case if you can catch and fix an issue before the product reaches the customer).
- Arm Yourself with the Relevant Facts
What really happened? When? Where? Why? and How? (Who is irrelevant as you will have to take full responsibility.) Investigate until you have the answers, don’t make any statements based on guesses or unconfirmed information, and don’t be emotional when you make your report.
- Don’t Comment Publicly Without Being Briefed First
If the products have reached the customer, or if the media has gotten wind of an internal issue and makes an inquiry, don’t respond without first reviewing the communications policy and contacting the communications team, and, if there are any legal implications, the legal team too. Even if you are the most qualified person to respond and have all the information, if you phrase something in a manner that could be misinterpreted, you could put your company in jeopardy.
- Assess the Situation for What it Really Is
Sometimes it will just be a boy crying wolf in your organization when all it is a utonagan. Furthermore, as Rod Clayton of Weber Shandwick notes, you could be in danger of attaching more significance to a situation or comment and making it worse if you can’t apply good judgment on whether it poses a substantial risk or threat.
- Takes Steps to Address the Issue
When something does go wrong, the company needs to take strong, decisive and corrective action, the details of which will of course depend on what the problem is. And if the product has reached the consumer, the action needs to be quickly and clearly communicated to the stakeholders, media, and public. In doing so, the company will need to show leadership in facing up to a challenge and working to solve it. After all, the public will often forgive a company if they feel it has acted well in trying to address the issue.