Blog post
October 22, 2019

The importance of responding to a crisis

We have analysed four of the top corporate crisis case studies of 2019 and delved into the behaviours of those that were leading the organisation through the crisis. Here are the three key things you should consider when planning your response to a corporate crisis.

When a crisis hits, how a leader acts, responds and behaves can often determine the outcome. The first few hours after a crisis or event can be chaotic. It’s a time of high uncertainty and the response rate from the organisation’s leader can either help minimise damage or hinder your organisation’s crisis recovery. In the first of our crisis management blog series, we discuss leaders during crisis and the importance of response time when crisis hits.

Responding to a crisis

When responding to crisis, the three key things to focus on are: 

  1. Be quick
  2. Be accurate
  3. Be consistent

Responding quickly and effectively enables your organisation to control the narrative around the incident. Having a strong communications team will ensure the key messages are appropriately communicated to your stakeholders in a simple and effective way. If there’s lack of clarity with the messaging, your organisation may come across as being purposefully confusing in order to hide information. So be sure to be succinct with your communications and message.

Leaders of an organisation face unique challenges and during a crisis they require presenting their point of view to stakeholders quickly and accurately. 

In the instance of a high profile crisis, there are more potential opportunities for the leader or the spokespersons of your organisation to be present in the media. If this occurs, the spokesperson should ensure they are confident with their messaging and it’s consistent for the duration of the crisis. Their body language should also reflect this. 

Convey a pleasant, calming and confident demeanour when communicating with stakeholders. This will show empathy, and portray a genuine drive to resolve the issue. If there is nervous energy or lack of eye contact in a media conference or interview it gives a sense of deception and lacks authenticity. Being fast with your response during a crisis can have a large impact on the outcome.

Time is crucial

The first 12 hours of an incident are crucial for response time. Today, these hours are driven by social channels, where conversations are being had with inaccurate information and the wrong narrative being told. This is why a social-centric incident response plan is extremely important when crisis hits otherwise this could be used as an opportunity to attack your organisation. 

Accuracy and consistency is key

Being accurate during a crisis is important. People want accurate information about the incident and how it may affect them. Due to the time pressure a crisis presents, there is risk of inaccurate information. This could lead to your organisation to be seen as inconsistent. Having nominated spokespersons speak one message for the crisis is a way to maintain accuracy.

Broadcasting a consistent message is instrumental to delivering the right story. Communicating a consistent message begins with separating what is true from what is false or speculated. Sharing the message internally, ensures members of your organisations can repeat the same message externally if required.

Leaders in time of crisis

We see all too often in times of crisis, high profile leaders not being present when they should be and their response time having great impact on the outcome.

In our latest Leadership Index: Leading through Crisis, we explore four high profile leaders and their response time to various crises. Across these scenarios, there are varying response times and the outcomes of these instances are directly related. Very often, the unpredictable nature of crises means that leaders have no time to prepare. It’s very much a do or be destroyed situation and the way a leader responds, behaves and acts during a crisis will establish their credentials as a good leader or a poor one. 

If you would like to learn more about these case studies or how we can assist with crisis management download a copy of our 3rd edition Leadership Index: Leading through Crisis.

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