Kate Betts, director of Capital B Media, on protecting your company reputation when things go wrong.
1. A crisis can hit any business – large or small. It could be a fatal accident, a disgruntled employee causing mischief or a product failure. How you handle the fall-out can save you, or do irreparable damage to your reputation.
2. Don’t hide. Falling silent or saying “no comment” looks like you have something to hide.
3. Be careful not to get over-defensive because of the criticism. It’s easy to take it personally when people say nasty things about your business. But think about how the public see it.
4. Often you don’t know if you are at fault or not. Err on the side of caution and keep in the back of your mind that you might be. Don’t try and pass the buck by blaming staff or sub-contractors.
5. Be careful when talking to your lawyers. They’ll tell you not to admit to anything and not to say sorry. Again – just think how that looks.
6. Remember to CARe. That stands for Concern, Action and Reassurance. The victims and the public will want to know that you are concerned and taking action, and you need to reassure them you are doing everything in your power so it never happens again.
7. Look at all your communication channels. Do you need to put information on your website or stop scheduled tweets going out?
8. Have people on your side before the crisis hits. It really helps to have ambassadors out there who will say good things about your business. A respected member of the community or trade association standing up for you is worth its weight in gold.
9. Be prepared. A crisis can hit at any time. Is there someone who can take decisive action on a Sunday morning, and do you have all the contact details and log-on details you need?
10. In these days of transparency and social media and the Freedom of Information Act, it’s hard to hide bad news. As one business leader once said to me, ‘if you don’t want the bad publicity, don’t do the bad stuff in the first place.’