Product recalls, corporate rumor mills, threats of extortion.
Crises, they happen every single day. You cannot prevent all of these situations, but you can plan for their inevitable occurrence. Through proper crisis management, your organization can stand tall even in the worst possible scenario. The task is daunting, near to overwhelming.
For most corporations, it takes a professional crisis management consultant team’s quick response to maneuver through the murk of a crisis circumstance.
Not sure if this applies to your corporation’s needs? Delve into the world of crisis management and see where it can best benefit your business.
What is Crisis Management?
A basic definition of crisis management is that this is the way an organization handles negative events that could potentially harm an entity. This could be the organization itself, the stakeholders of the company, or even the general public.
OK, sure, so crisis management manages crises, that’s for certain, but what exactly does this involve?
Threats to an organization come from all angles. It could be a product recalled due to contamination by a food and beverage manufacturer. It might be a natural disaster that has struck a meat processing plant, flooding the facility and contaminating the pork and beef. Terroristic threats are one of the more recent concerns of organizations particularly with globalization placing offices abroad. Then there is the worst case scenario of kidnapping, ransom and extortion. Just ask the Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone about that one, after his mother-in-law was kidnapped in Sao Paulo a few years ago.
These situations are devastating to the individuals and entities involved. Yet they extend across business lines to cause crises at the stock market, with potential partnerships, and among existing corporate relationships. Whenever a business is in crisis the competition sets its sights on a weak link in the chink of its chain mail and attacks as it sees fit. It’s all part of the corporate game. This is where crisis management consultations fill their role. Business leaders hire experts to handle tasks beyond their skill set, from human relations professionals to factory workers.
Crisis management experts are hired to plan in detail all responses for potential crises. This requires a detailed understanding of the business itself to be able to predict any possible threats. It also involves hiring experts in your industry.
Crisis situations can include:
- Technology-related dangers, i.e. hacking, software failures, cloud storage meltdowns, IT department breakdown
- Natural disasters, i.e. floods, forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes
- Social chaos, i.e. striking, boycotts, occupations
- Conflict and confrontation, i.e. malevolence from competitors, fighting amongst leadership, skewed management values
- Corporate misconduct, i.e. theft, trading insider secrets, illegal stock market trading, deception of stakeholders
- Violence in the workplace, i.e. racist attacks, worker unrest, disgruntled ex-employees
- Social media attacks, i.e. viral footage of personal interest pertaining to management or working situations, negative online campaign against business
- Rumor mills, i.e. falsehoods spread about products, linking organization to racist or terrorist groups
- Terrorism, i.e. kidnapping, arson, espionage
Time is of the essence here, which is why a crisis consultant establishes practices and monitoring systems to detect warning signs of crises. Early detection, as even your family doctor will tell you, is the most efficient way to stymie any problem. To handle this behemoth task you need to hire a crisis management firm that is experienced with a proven track record, or hire the right crisis consultants for in-house management. Another often forgotten segment to this process is transparency. Involve as many stakeholders as feasible in the process of planning and action for crisis management. The more directed input your consultation team has, the more likely they are to avert and manage crises across the board.
How Important is Crisis Management to Corporations?
The most obvious reason crisis management is so crucial to corporations is due to the natural of crises. These events and circumstances happen at any, and at the least expected, moments. They have the potential to shut down your business, if not inflict monumental monetary pain for years to come. The peanut butter contamination of 2013 caused the Peanut Corporation of America to go bankrupt. This company was well aware of its missteps as they were aware of Salmonella in their products since 2004. Clearly this company did not believe in the need to hire a crisis consultant, which would have likely meant the business would still be churning peanut butter today.
A latent function of crisis management is the role of empowerment. Every person in your organization is placing their bets on the success of the business. This primarily involves paychecks and career goals, but at the basic level all of this depends on the empowerment you provide for them. You trust your employees to do their jobs just as they trust you to be a leader. Without this core emotion of trust there is no business to speak of. One of the greatest threats to this trust is crisis. In a crisis situation the moves you make will affect more than your bottom line. It will impact the confidence that your employees have on you to handle a crisis whether it is weather-related, due to technical failures, or a response to worker unrest.
Next you have to think outside of the workplace. In a crisis scenario there are outside organizations and social structures watching to see how your business reacts. This could be the local officials determining how your business responds to leaking sewage from your operating plant that is contaminating local drinking water. This could be from legislators watching to see how the public reacts to your decision regarding safety regulations that have been ignored, leading to the mass death of workers on your watch.
Thought leaders from your industry are also keeping a keen eye in your direction when it comes to how your corporation handles a crisis situation. Your moves impact the greater community, and here in the globalized market, these moves reverberate across oceans. If you make a wise decision during a crisis situation this will be reported and analyzed and journalized for other businesses to reflect upon for their own crisis management solutions. If you fail to protect your business, stakeholders and workers your corporation will become a laughing stock worldwide.
What you do and how you react to crises involves far more than the crisis itself. Being prepared for a crisis, whenever and however it ultimately takes place, is the greatest asset you can provide for your business and community.
Why Should You Choose Third Party Crisis Consultants?
As noted choosing a crisis consultant requires finding the right expert for both your industry and the specified types of crises you want to manage. This is a major task to take on. Choosing someone in your office, i.e. your already overworked HR rep, to stack crisis management into their workday is a poor move. You want an expert in crisis management, someone with the proper training and knowledge, someone with both the academic credentials and the real-world experience that showcases their competence. This isn’t a part-time job. It requires ongoing training, streamline focus, and continual analysis to ensure optimal crisis management methods.
Before you outsource this job to someone, anyone, in your organization, consider their tunnel vision. An employee who has worked for you for years is going to know a lot about your company, that’s certain. However, they are also blinded to the business in that they have become acclimated to their workplace. They see everything through a lens that is clouded by personal and professional relationships within the business. For this reason they are less likely to notice anything out of sorts that indicates a crisis is on the horizon.
Additionally, long term commitment to a company tends to lead to complacency. Why rock the boat and bring up uncomfortable possibilities when this could cause you professional setbacks? Instead of bringing up crisis possibilities, such as corporate misconduct, you are more likely to sweep these under a rug. And if you yourself are involved in such activities you’re likely to pull a desk over that rug and cover that desk with a fresh coat of paint. Hiring an employee in your organization to handle crises creates the risk of aversion to certain types of crises. As a result you are shortchanging your corporation by getting part-time crisis solutions for a full-time position.
Hiring a third party crisis consultation firm avoids these issues all around. These crisis experts are going to come into your corporation and look at it with a discerning eye. Shrewd, sophisticated, selective. That’s what you want in a crisis management consultant. This provides you with the most viable solution for predicting, preventing, and presiding over crises as they come up. Because that’s imperative to understand. You will have crises in your corporation and you want to protect your business from negativity and damage due to these crises. If you are serious about your business, hire a third party crisis consultant who is just as serious about their job.
What are the Crisis Trends for the coming year?
If you want to know what effective crisis management looks like start by identifying the crisis trends for 2018. Forbes identifies the most possible crises projected for the year. These include:
- Live streaming trends on social media
- Workplace violence
- Twitter takedown
Let’s address each crisis in detail to determine how effective crisis management would potentially handle these scenarios.
Live Streaming Video
Live streaming video was hot, hot, hot in 2016. Everyone from police shooting victims to those striking against the Native American oil pipe line in North Dakota were taking over Facebook Live. This live streaming trend had huge impacts across cultural and political sectors. This is only expected to increase tenfold in 2018.
What is at risk for your business with live streaming? Live streaming video is not actually live streaming because it does not play live, once, and then go away. Instead it is recorded and uploaded in real-time. This means editing is not permitted so the footage is guaranteed to be authentic. In a day and age when Photoshop has transformed far too many bodies this is a major reversal. It provides viewers with total transparency, which they love.
When used to portray your corporation, however, it can be either really beneficial or devastating. There is no middle ground on this kind of streaming footage. Typically a user will upload live streaming video when there is something controversial at stake. As a result you can almost guarantee that the use of live streaming video has crisis potential.
The big risk here is that viewers will think they are seeing everything they need to see in order to make their decision about your business. This is where your crisis consultant has an in road. They are able to counter against the video and expand on the truth that is not told in that short clip of footage. Your team will also need to provide a counterbalancing live streaming video that showcases the whole story, or at least the side you want to be made public.
Cybersecurity is best known as hacking, and after the Russian hacking campaign that potentially has comprised the US presidency, this is a very potent crisis. Since it’s a relatively new circumstance there isn’t a lot of experience in crisis control of hacking. Furthermore the technology to prevent hackers from doing serious damage to your business hasn’t wholly caught up to the hacking acts. So what on earth is your crisis consultant to do in the case of computer hacking in your corporation? Oddly enough it’s exactly the same thing they should be doing do address workplace violence. Let’s take a look.
Preparation is the prime factor here. You must have every precaution possible in place to prevent cyber hacking and workplace violence from occurring. Cybersecurity methods range from advanced IT management to things as simple as maintaining password security among your employees. Your crisis management team must enact the latest cybersecurity techniques as these are best suited to predate the possibilities of hacking and the like.
Preventing workplace violence sounds more approachable since you are aware of all, or nearly all, possible offenders. These may be disgruntled ex employees or workers dealing with interoffice conflicts. To prevent these crisis scenarios from taking your corporation down use communication strategies, escalation protocols, and actionable steps to enact in case of workplace violence.
This last one seems out of place, but just bare with this a second. Twitter is on its last tweet so to speak. With the constant invention of new and more effective methods of social media communication the use of Twitter and its 40 odd characters is expected to implode within the next couple of years. No, you won’t lose your company Twitter handle in 2018, according to Forbes, but it will be placed in the same cemetery as MySpace, Digg, Friendster, Yahoo! Buzz, and Orkut. Yes, that last one is a real social media site, which was owned by Google until it went kaput in 2014.
When Twitter tweets its last tweet your business will be impacted. The severity will range on your dependence of this social media platform. However it will also impact your stakeholders. Twitter is renowned for being a place where businesses can make their own news regarding their organization. It ranks among Facebook as one of the most prominent social media platforms. So while Twitter is losing steam fast it has become ingrained in our social sharing worlds.
This has a two-fold impact. Your stakeholders are less likely to use Twitter now to check out the latest news for your business. Furthermore, they are going to cease communications on this platform altogether by the time the end comes. How will you be able to share news in real time with this audience base? We know the importance of real-time communication with stakeholders and customers in this day of instant access. As your stakeholders lose this connection to your business it will create a crisis mode. How are you going to communicate as effectively with this constituency post-Twitter?
Start by identifying those platforms where stakeholders are opting for in place of Twitter. Determine where your business will conduct communications when in crisis situations. Connect to media outlets, reporters, and industry-specific bloggers to keep an open stream of communication that will be effective in crisis management.
In understanding the ins and outs of crisis management your business has the foundation for building a solid support system to hold you up in any adverse situation.
Can we help you?
Our experts at Bryghtpath have built, implemented, and managed the crisis management processes used by many Fortune 100 firms, as well as small to medium enterprises around the globe. We’d love to talk with you about how you can leverage our experiences and knowledge to improve your organization’s resilience. Learn more about our approach to Crisis Management in our Ultimate Guide to Crisis Management.
Drop us a note via our contact page or give us a call at +1.612.235.6435. We’d love to help!