The essentials of business crisis management. How to intervene and respond when something threatens the reputation of your business.

The word crisis is usually associated with natural disasters, such as earthquakes or tornadoes that often devastate and destroy communities. However, another type of crisis can be equally devastating for you and your business, known as a business crisis. This article will give you practical advice on preparing for it and managing it when it happens. We will discuss what you have to do and how you should respond to intervene when something threatens your business’s reputation.

1. What exactly is a business crisis?

Let’s start by defining what exactly is a business crisis. Simply put, it is an event that can damage a company’s reputation and threaten its success. In addition to this, it can harm the company’s employees, hurt its finances, or threaten the company’s various business operations.

2. What causes a business crisis?

Both internal and external circumstances can serve as the cause of the business crisis. Because the crisis can cause severe damage and have a long term effect, it is vital to have a crisis management plan in place before one occurs.

3. What does crisis management mean?

Crisis management means unexpected situations arise and can negatively affect your business and need to be dealt with as soon as possible. If you fail to do so, it can impact your revenue and your shareholders, customers, and employees. Dealing with these types of disruptive events is called crisis management, and it should be a vital component of your public relations strategy.

4. How exactly do you manage a business crisis?

You need to take several steps in order to manage a business crisis effectively.

  • The first step you need to take happens before the crisis even occurs, and it involves you creating a business crisis management plan and assembling a team. It is highly recommended to hire a team of professionals that will manage any potential crises for you.
  • After you and your team agree on your crisis management plan, you should test it by conducting several practice exercises to determine your plan’s effectiveness.
  • Another thing you have to do is have your team draft several communication messages that are used in an emergency. Having these messages written in advance will save you valuable time when the crisis occurs.
  • If you and your crisis management team have created a comprehensive business crisis management strategy, you should immediately act after the emergence of the crisis. Release the messages created for the management of the crisis, contact your shareholders and employees, and make your company’s safety your priority.
  • After the crisis subsides, your crisis management plan is still essential to your business success. It is vital to make yourself available to answer any questions and maintain contact with your customers, employees, and the company’s shareholders. In addition to maintaining contact, send frequent updates to all interested parties.

5. What is a business crisis management plan, and how should you go about creating it?

A specific, predetermined process that a business should follow when dealing with an unexpected and potentially damaging situation is called a business crisis management plan. It should be created with experienced public relations professionals and activated after becoming aware of the crisis to minimize the damage to your company immediately.

  • To create a successful business crisis management plan, you and your team should start by identifying all possible crises that can negatively impact your business.
  • After that, think about what type of impact each of these crises can have on your business.
  • Next, think about the actions that would be needed to resolve these crises successfully, minimizing impact.
  • Decide who should be involved in each of these scenarios (all relevant staff members should familiarize themselves with your plan).
  • After your PR team has finished creating a comprehensive business crisis management plan, it is essential to revisit and update your plan occasionally.

There are various types of crises that can affect your brand. Let’s look at some of the different kinds of crises that may cause your brand problems.

Financial crisis.

  • Financial: happens when the service or the product that the company offers to its customers is no longer in high demand. In this case, the companies assets lose value, and they may not be able to afford to pay back what are they owe.

The organizational crisis.

Organizational crises occur when a business has done something that hurts their customer base. An example of this may be businesses hiding important information, or another type of customer deception usually benefiting the company.

Environmental crisis.

Environmental: floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes are examples of natural disasters that may cause a crisis in your company. All of the aforementioned natural disasters can ruin a company’s office space (or indeed any real estate owned or rented by the company). Some companies are more prone to succumbing to these types of crises only due to their property location.

Business reputation crisis.

Product recall: When a certain percentage of your products are defective, and you need to take them out of circulation, it can have a devastating effect not only on the flow of revenue but also on your brand’s reputation. We all remember the exploding Samsung mobile phone fiasco, which impacted the companies profitability.

Bad reviews: Nowadays, with applications like Yelp, every customer is also a critic. Their opinions about the products or services your business provides can be accessed globally.

Twitter faux pas: Social media posts have been responsible for some brands’ undoing. None more so than Twitter. One inappropriate or even an improperly timed tweet from a company’s official account can generate a severe backlash or, in some extreme circumstances, also cause a nation-wide boycott of your brand.

Business crises caused by technology.

Hacked: Online security has been an increasing concern for companies. If your clients trust you to store their sensitive information in your database, then someone managing to steal that information would irreversibly break that trust and cause enormous damage to your brand’s reputation.

Having your official social media account hacked is another scenario that can trigger a business crisis. Recently dozens of verified accounts on Twitter were successfully targeted by hackers who managed to persuade the accounts’ followers to get entangled in a Bitcoin scheme. This crisis requires immediate action and a combined effort from IT and PR professionals to manage it.

Technological crash: If the software or the hardware your company relies on to do its business malfunctions, you can lose all contact with your clientele. If your clients rely on your technology to do their business effectively, they may not wait for you to fix the bugs and issues. If you fail to address their concerns as soon as possible, you may find that they have moved to your competitor.

Negative press / online content.

If a negative story about your brand gets out, it will deter any potential customers and make your shareholders uneasy. You may mitigate the damage leveraging media relations, coaching and consulting to tell your story overshadowing the negative press

Online content: It may reach a wider audience and provides information fast and efficiently. If a damaging story appears on the first page of Google, you should do everything you can to present your brand positively. Hopefully, this will push down the negative contents out of the search results. Out of sight, out of mind.

Social justice impacts.

Social justice: issues have been steadily gaining momentum because people are no longer afraid to tell their stories and the injustices they experience. If your branding is offensive, it will lead to backlash and possibly a boycott of your products and services. Diversity and inclusion should be deep-rooted and integrated throughout your brand.

Misconduct.

Misconduct: when people closely associated with your brand accept bribes, participate in insider trading, or engage in any other illegal activity and the information of them doing so leaks, leading to a severe crisis that requires your immediate attention.

Harassment.

Harassment: another example of misconduct would be engaging in any type of sexual harassment of subordinated employees. This type of crisis may occur either in the workplace or out of it. When the crisis of this nature erupts, it will require your immediate attention and swift actions from your PR team.

All of the crises mentioned in this article (and many more that could potentially erupt) can damage your brand and negatively impact your business operations. Having a professional PR team and a comprehensive action plan will help you evaluate and manage the crises.

7. Which intervention and response techniques are best to manage a business crisis?

To determine successful intervention and response techniques, you and your PR management team should know approximately what kind of impact each of the crises potentially has on your business.

In some cases, a business crisis may significantly reduce (or even total loss) of sales. In other cases, it may cause dissatisfaction among customers, which will negatively impact customer loyalty for your company (needless to say, this will result in lower sales) of your brand. And last but not least, a business crisis can ruin your brand’s reputation.

Reputation management is another critical component of a good PR strategy.

8. What are the critical aspects of reputation management?

As useful as modern technology has been in some ways, it has undoubtedly made it more challenging to manage your reputation and contain negative news. If something negative happens within your company and it leaks out, it can spread on various media outlets in minutes. To manage your business’s reputation effectively, you must get ahead of the story and guide the dialogue as best as you can.

First, make sure to get as much positive content out there as you can. If you have a corporate website, are active on blogs, and have established a strong presence on social media platforms, you will have the opportunity to raise awareness of your brand and quickly move on from any potential harmful incidents.

In the event of a public incident, acknowledge the mistakes that have been made and afterward keep flooding the internet with positive information about your business. For example, you could post several blog posts that highlight customer success stories, talk about your business’s charitable organizations, or attract your customers’ attention to a new product. Do everything you can to push the damaging story off Google’s first page, and hopefully, soon, it will be behind you.

Another way to intervene and respond when your company’s reputation is in danger of being tarnished is to connect with your customers and perhaps even ask them to help you fix the issue.

Let’s take Gitlab (a firm that develops software), for instance. In Gitlab’s case, client data was accidentally deleted from the company’s server by an employee. This incident harmed thousands of clients and endangered many expensive projects. To deal with this crisis, Gitlab told its customers what happened immediately and later on kept them constantly in the loop. Also, they worked together with their customers to fix this problem. Due to the swift response and a high level of transparency and honesty on Gitlab’s part, there was no irreparable damage caused to its reputation, and customers kept the worst of their anger at bay.

Moreover, you should also manage the online presence of your company’s executives. They can have a severe impact on the reputation of the company itself.

For example, the founder of Uber, who used to be its CEO, was criticized for a number of personal mistakes and the management style employed within the company.

If the company’s high-level executives suffer from a negative reputation, this will undoubtedly impact the reputation of the company connected with them.

Not only must you discuss with your executives how they should respond to any potential crises, but you must also have your public relations team keep an eye on their online presence. In the age of social media, keeping a low profile online is not possible, so it is better to be ahead of the curve and establish a positive online presence for your company executives.

9. Stronger together.

One more thing you must do to save your company’s reputation is to present a unified front in case of a crisis.

Let’s imagine a situation in which you have done everything you can to prepare for the potential crisis.

There is a predetermined plan of action, and you have drafted all the critical messages. But at the last minute, one of your executives decides to give an impromptu interview and delivers a message that contradicts the approved plan.

This type of mistake causes your crisis response to go off the rails, but it can also severely damage your company’s reputation. If your customers start hearing different stories from different sources, they will assume that the internal organization is in a state of chaos. They will also assume that your brand is untrustworthy.

Whenever you decide to assemble a crisis management team (as you definitely should), it has to include a public relations specialist and somebody who can advise you on human resources.

Specialists and firms that specialize in business crisis management, crisis intervention, and response and reputation management will help your company overcome the crisis by maintaining contact with your customers and your employees. They will also manage the messages that go out to your social media followers and press.

Experiencing a crisis is an inevitable part of doing business today. All companies have to deal with one or multiple crises, whether it’s a minor or a major one, and in today’s extremely competitive environment. Don’t be caught off guard. Assemble your crisis management team and start putting a comprehensive plan in place long before you need to follow it.

If you want to know more about business crisis management contact us.

The ABCs of public relations. How to protect, promote and evolve your brand.

Public relations activities increase the visibility of your brand. With a comprehensive public relations strategy, you can promote a positive image for your business and reach new audiences while protecting, promoting, and evolving your brand.

Which Public Relations Strategy is Best for Your Brand?

There is no standard approach when it comes to a public relations plan. Every individual, organization, or business requires a unique strategy. To come up with the most effective PR plan, work with a public relations firm. However, even though there is no straight forward approach to public relations, there are a few things you should take into consideration when creating a strategy which best benefits both you and your brand.

Know Your Audience

Before you begin creating a comprehensive public relations strategy, the most important thing is to determine your target audience. For example, when launching a website to promote or sell your specific products or services, think about who your likely customers will be. Taking the time to identify your target audience can maximize the attention your brand receives.

What is the Big Picture?

Think about the big picture. Overall, what are you trying to achieve by reaching out to the target audience? What is your end goal? If your target audience and goal is not determined, it will be easy to lose track of the details, which might be counterproductive and frustrating.

Communicate Well

Communication is the cornerstone of public relations. A public relations campaign has no chance of success if it does not deliver a clear and concise message. A good campaign can prove unsuccessful with unclear and confusing messaging. This part of public relations is essential, so ensure you take all the necessary steps to effectively and thoroughly convey the message. If you need help developing a communications plan, it might be best to hire an experienced PR team. For example, IXG, a PR agency that Protects. Promotes. and Evolves your Brand.

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion (D & I)

We live in a wonderfully diverse world, but diversity and inclusion have not been a top priority on many brand’s agendas. Today it is a benchmark by which brands are judged, and those brands that want to connect with the masses need to evolve. For example, many businesses create D & I campaigns and training to avoid potential conflicts that would attract the wrath of social media users (and negative press) and be devastating for the brand.

Content Creation is an Essential Part of PR Strategy

Content creation plays a crucial part in brand promotion, and the internet offers a convenient way of promoting your brand to potential customers. The internet is the judge, jury, and executioner of many brands. Knowing how to use social media to protect, promote, and evolve your brand can make all the difference. If you are unsure about using social media, it is best to consult professionals at a PR firm who will assess your brand and develop a unique content and distribution strategy for you.

Pay Attention to Detail

Once you have determined your target audience and goals, it is time to start thinking about the details. Attention to detail makes your brand appear more sophisticated and well-managed. That does not mean micromanaging everything yourself. It may be necessary to delegate some, most, or all public relations responsibilities to a PR strategic advising firm.

Evaluate the Results of your PR strategy and Adjust if Necessary

The evaluation process is another essential part of public relations. Once in a while, analyze your public relations actions — what was successful or unsuccessful — and make adjustments to the plan as needed.

Be Honest

When it comes to public relations, honesty is the best policy. Be as transparent with your audience as possible. If you falsify your actions, it only serves to destroy your target audience’s ability to build trust. If unfavorable actions do come to light, seeking some advice from a professional PR agency may help. If you try to have a go at it yourself, you may dig deeper into the hole.

Innovate! It Will Set You Apart from the Crowd

Today the market is saturated with various brands, and, as a result of this, audiences worldwide have a relatively shorter attention span and much less patience. To effectively promote your brand, find a creative way to stand out from the crowd, and get your message across. The message needs to be as clear and concise as possible for it to stand a chance of grabbing your target audiences’ attention.

Listen to the Feedback

If someone tells you something that you do not want to hear, carefully listen to, and analyze the feedback. Accepting constructive criticism and feedback can only help you improve your brand. So, make sure you are receptive to the good and the bad.

These are the essential points to keep in mind before venturing into the world of public relations. There are many ways to make your brand stand out, and you can work them out by consulting IXG, a PR agency.

If you want to know more about how to develop your PR strategy, visit our website.

How to develop an effective online content strategy?

How the creation of online content enables communication with the customers and helps your business grow.

The 21st century is the age of technology. Knowing how to create an effective content marketing strategy and how to communicate with your existing and prospective customers can make all the difference. According to multiple reports, almost 70 percent of businesses nowadays invest in some form of content marketing. The competition is fierce, but if you put a comprehensive content marketing plan in place and persistently follow it, you will be able to tell your story and get ahead.

What exactly is a content strategy?

Content strategy is a part of your overall marketing plan that shows your online audience who you are, what your business brings to the industry, and what type of expertise you have. When you have a comprehensive content strategy, you tell your story by creating and managing your online content (for example, visual or written) on different media platforms. Content creation and distribution are an integral part of growing your business, and it needs to be well-planned.

There are several things you should take into consideration when creating your content strategy.

Who do you think is the target audience for your online content?

A business may offer products or services that are aimed at more than one type of customer; therefore, your content strategy may seek to attract more than one kind of viewer or reader.

Once you have determined exactly which audiences you wish to target, it is recommended you deliver your content to those audiences using several different channels. Allowing you to engage your target audience increases brand awareness and customer loyalty.

For example, if your messaging and content is targeting teenagers or young adults, it is recommended to create your content and distribute it on the platforms that are frequently used by people who belong to those age demographics (such as TiK ToK or Instagram).

What is the main message you should communicate to your audience?

First and foremost, you should show your audience what sets you apart from your competitor. Today the market is saturated with many different types of products and services, so you have to demonstrate the expertise and quality that makes your brand unique.

What is your format choice?

Another critical thing to consider when creating an online content strategy is the format in which your content is delivered to your audience. Are you going to create blog posts, YouTube videos, Instagram posts, or some other popular type of content?

The creation of each of these varies in expense. For example, writing and publishing a blog post can be relatively cost-effective, whereas creating a viral YouTube video can get quite pricey. On the other hand, it may have a better chance of reaching a wider audience.

Content creation and publication requires constant management. How will you do it?

An essential part of your content strategy is knowing the person (or the team) responsible for creating your online content. Knowing which platforms to publish the content, and when it is going to be uploaded online is also critical.

If you create a content calendar, you will be able to visualize your company’s message, and over time, with persistence, you will be able to become a leader in your field. Trying to keep an eye on this process on your own can be somewhat overwhelming, so it is wise to get help from experienced PR professionals, such as IXG PR.

Creating a comprehensive online content strategy.

Before you start creating your content strategy, you need to ask yourself several questions, such as: What is my long-term goal? Why am I creating a content marketing plan?

If you have a clear idea of your long-term goal, you will have a much easier time deciding what should and should not be included in your strategy.

You should also conduct market research to determine who exactly will be consuming your content. Who is your target audience? This is especially essential for those businesses that are new to online content creation. If you know exactly who your target audience is, you can create more valuable, interesting, relevant content, and communicate with your audience more effectively.

If you are involved in online content creation, you might want to expand your current target audience. This makes it essential to conduct market research and analysis annually to decide which audience you want to target next.

Venturing into new platforms and creating new types of content may help you communicate with new audiences better and expand your current clientele.

For example, if you have been creating written blog posts, consider including visual content, or write an eBook using information from your blog posts and combine them into one ultimate guidebook.

If you have been operating a business for a while, it is recommended to run a content audit every year to review your content marketing strategies and make adjustments, if necessary. Think about what could be executed differently to achieve better results; what you can do to reach new audiences in the future, and set new objectives.

The creation of online content will directly impact your company’s reputation. It is highly recommended to delegate the creation of a comprehensive content marketing strategy to a PR professional or even a team of professionals.

Creating and managing your online content.

After you have figured out what your content strategy is and who your target audience is, it is time to start brainstorming ideas and start creating content. Follow your content calendar. It will help you stay on track and maintain a constant communication channel between your brand and your customers.

Whatever gets uploaded online, stays online.

Your content will remain visible for several months or even years after you have uploaded them. Be sure to keep your content relevant to current events, if possible. This content may not account for the bulk of your content but would help generate spikes of organic traffic to your website.

Incorporate significant milestones and holidays into your online content strategies, such as Thanksgiving or New Year’s. Creating and publishing content about relevant news stories will increase the engagement of your audience and build trust in your brand.

Some popular types of content marketing.

You can incorporate as many of these marketing approaches into your online content strategy and use them to communicate with your different target audiences.

Create blog posts.

Blog posts are written articles that are uploaded to your website. They should be updated regularly to attract new organic traffic to your site. A good blog post provides information to its audience that is shared across different social media platforms.

Your audience’s needs determine the exact size of a blog post, but usually, they range between 1000 and 2000 words in length. You should experiment with blog posts of different lengths to determine which one generates a better response from your target audience. For example, if you are running an educational blog your audience might be interested in an in-depth analysis of a certain topic. In this case, a longer blog post might serve you better.

Tell your audience about case studies.

By publishing a particular case study, you will have the opportunity to tell your audience about a customer who succeeded by collaborating with you. Case studies can take different forms and can be presented to your audience in the form of a blog post, podcast, eBook, etc. Case studies show your audience that working with you brings positive results. They demonstrate your competency, knowledge, and expertise.

Infographics.

Sometimes presenting information with words alone is not enough, and you should provide a visual aid to make your message as clear as possible. This is where infographics can be extremely handy. They will help your customers visualize the data, which will make it easier to comprehend.

Create viral videos to engage your audience.

Video is one of the most popular types of online content nowadays. By creating videos, you communicate with wider audiences and make your content available on various platforms. Videos are 40 times more likely to be shared on multiple social media platforms than any other type of content, so it is a type of communication that is recommended if possible. However, videos do require a significantly bigger investment of resources and a larger investment than written content.

Communicating with your audience via podcast.

Certain audiences do not have the time or interest in reading new content on a daily basis. In order to communicate with these audiences and help them get to know your brand, you may want to consider podcasts. According to a recent study, nearly 30 percent of the entire US population said they listened to at least one podcast in the past few months. Broadcasting on relevant contemporary topics and interviewing interesting people can attract a larger audience to your podcast and your brand.

Posting content on social media.

If you have a website and publish your content there (or even if you have just set it up), it is time to look into social media. Social media platforms are in abundance (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.). If you decide to start a business account on social media, we recommend posting the content your followers expect to see on these platforms.

For example, people expect to see relevant photos or short videos on Instagram. The main goal of an Instagram account is to communicate with your existing followers and acquire new ones. On the other hand, you could create a Twitter account that may be beneficial for the expansion of your client base. Before you decide which platform to post on, research your target audience’s preferred and most visited social media platforms.

Examples of successful content marketing.

Below are several cases demonstrating effective content marketing:

McDonald’s

The Canadian branch of McDonald’s decided to answer around 10,000 of its customer’s questions. The company chose to share its customers’ information about their brand, and this transparency was popular with the customers. This strategy helped McDonald’s to illustrate their brand as trustworthy while engaging positively with their customers.

GoPro’s visual content

GoPro knows the power of visual content. By producing high-quality visual content, they grew their YouTube subscribers to approximately 3.5 million and their Twitter followers to almost 7 million. By focusing their content on their target audience, this was achieved. GoPro knew what attracted its customers and precisely provided the material desired.

Interesting content that attracts the target audience to their brand prompted followers to share it on their social media pages, giving GoPro the opportunity to reach a larger audience.

Visual content marketing is increasingly powerful in PR and learning how to do it effectively will benefit your brand.

Microsoft stories

Microsoft engages its audience with uplifting stories the company publishes on their appropriately named blog, “Stories.” Audiences tend to love a positive story, so working them into your PR strategy may help grow your existing audience.

Choosing what strategy works best for your brand is essential for brand evolution. Creating your strategy, together with an experienced PR advisor, helps to maximize your chances of success.

IXG PR will develop your content strategy and help you create content. For more information, visit our website.