"Tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth"
John F. Kennedy
If your organization doesn't have a Crisis Communications plan, you need one. Just like in our personal lives, organizations can also have things happen or make mistakes too. Keep in mind, “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a few seconds to destroy one.” Unknown
I've earned a lot about how the best PR professionals handle crises through my days as a TV news reporter. I found that those who followed John F. Kennedy's advice often fared best. "Tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth."
It sounds like simple advice, however, you'd be amazed at how quickly the natural tendency is to "make like an ostrich" and put your head in the ground. However, “If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.” Henry A. Kissinger
It's important for organizations to control the message before the media does. By telling the truth immediately and completely, it shows your organization is taking the initiative to be transparent and honest. Otherwise, the media or those online will tell it for you and most times you won't like how or what they have to say.
One of my favorite examples of how I've helped navigate my own organization's potential crisis was during Super Storm Sandy. Unfortunately, many of pre-positioned relief supplies were destroyed during the flooding and our response teams were not able to help storm survivors for several days. I turned the situation into a news pitch and pitched the irony of having a relief organization needing relief as well. The angle kept reporters from questioning why our organization wasn't able to respond until later in the week, and it even helped garner positive national media coverage. Plus, donations actually increased due to the "sympathy factor" or those wanting to help my organization during its time of need.
Communication Reponse Key Strategies
- Develop a crisis communications team
- Identify and train spokespeople
- Establish notification systems
- Anticipate and prepare for crises
- Advise on or develop key messages
- Protect organization's reputation