March 5, 2014 Patricia Ferreria
Everyone knows that when a PR crisis strikes it can be a very dramatic and traumatic experience for a company. But does your company know how to handle a bad situation when crisis strikes? Here are 5 things that every company should do to gain the trust of their customers:
Here comes one of the hardest things any executive has to do – face the public. This can be very scary and at times even overwhelming, but just remember you are a professional. People can’t see you handle the problem through private meetings, phone calls, and they can’t even see you delegating roles to your employees. The only way to keep people updated on the current situation is to face your fears and address the public. It will show consumers and the media that you are prepared to solve the crisis and most importantly that you aren’t hiding anything.
If you take anything away from this article it’s that you shouldn’t give people a chance to undermine your credibility. These people are already upset with the company, you are representing the company and are the very essence of everything they stand for, don’t make yourself look like an idiot because you’ll be making a fool our of your company. It is always better to apologize, move on, and solve the problem, rather than defend your company by defending something pointless. Best thing is to understand the concerns of the public and “get it” as they stated in the “5 C’s of Crisis”.
As the representative of your company you should be communicating with everyone who has been affected by the crisis. This would include stakeholders, the media and the general public. This will help to ensure that you are committed to solving the crisis because you believe in your knowledge and experience. Of course these people want to hear from you because you are the person who is responsible for the actions of the company and you’re also the person with the most knowledge and experience of the company.
Do you care about the company? Yes you do, so show it. It’s almost like you’re in a relationship with the company. If you don’t show your company that you care they will eventually break up with you, which in non-metaphoric terms means they will fire you.
People want to see some action. They want to see progress, so show them that you are capable of solving the problem. You’re the professional so they will be looking to you for all the answer to their questions and you should be equipped with the skills to answer all of them.
A great example of a brand that demonstrates that they are capable of solving a PR crisis is Jet Blue. They have really set the standard for other brands that have been faced with situations similar to theirs. The night of the 14th of February, Jet Blue had to cancel flights due to weather conditions. The next three days they continued to cancel up to 25% of flights due to flight attendants and pilots being out of place, not enough people, and reservation agents being overwhelmed by the workload. They basically had to reset the airline.
David Neeleman explains to the public that he is terribly sorry for what has happened to the customers and employees. He goes on to explain that it was terrible for him to watch one snowstorm destroy the image of his “passenger friendly” company in one night. He explained that he will be compensating all customers involved in the crisis and that it will cost the company over 30 million dollars to do so. He has also put in place a bill of right for ground delays of flights that will compensate Jet Blue’s customers. David wants to be able to credit their customers and explain to the public and to the customers what has happened. He further states in the interview that he believes Jet Blue knows their customers and knows how they should be treated. David has exhibited all these five qualities that you have to have when solving a crisis in your company.
Patricia Ferreira, Raven5 Ltd, Oakville, Ontario March 2014.