Many people know that crisis communications is something they need to have on their radar but don’t know where to start as it can all seem like a big minefield. Just the idea of a quote being taken out of context or a story going viral on social media can send people into a panic. Even if it doesn’t happen to you, you could get caught up in someone else’s crisis. Our Deputy Managing Director, Amelia Knight, share her top tips for how to navigate through the trickiest situations.
Prevention is better than cure
For all clients but in particular for anyone operating in the arts space, it’s absolutely vital to be on top of the cultural scene. Keeping abreast of relevant news stories and social media conversations in the space will ensure that you understand the environment before you start your promotional campaign, and lay the ground for handling these issues sensitively and effectively. With such a fragmented media landscape it can feel daunting to try to constantly be on top of things, which is why this is something that Midas prides itself on – all our clients benefit from our insight into the news agenda which is shared across the agency. We’re culture vultures and we love getting to grips with these conversations.
Make a plan
If a crisis situation occurs, you won’t have the headspace to make lots of decisions, so make sure everything is lined up in advance. Writing down messaging around various scenarios and then refining these over time as new information comes to light, or new points of view come to mind, is an effective strategy. Being clear on who you’re going to consult should the need arise and ensuring you have their contact details up to date is a straightforward but important piece of the puzzle, of course making sure that you have a diverse selection of perspectives.
If the worst happens, take your time
It can be tempting to take action in the heat of the moment, especially when everything can feel like it’s unravelling at light speed, and you do need to move relatively swiftly. But you’ll be better served to take the time to consider your response with a cool head, taking your time to prepare a fully rounded response. Remember that the people shouting the loudest aren’t always – and in fact are frequently not – your most important stakeholders. Share your response in a way that works for you and those who are most significant to you long term, both internally and externally.
Connect directly with people who have been affected
Burying your head in the sand won’t make problems go away, and nothing beats a personal outreach to anyone you feel might have been affected by the crisis. It can feel hard to tackle such conversations head on, but if you carry them out authentically and in a timely fashion then people will appreciate the approach. They may acknowledge the crisis was beyond your control and not necessarily of your making, so it’s your response to the situation that will truly stay with people.
Carry out a post-mortem
When the dust has settled, it’s crucial to examine what happened and use this as a valuable learning point to mitigate against future issues.
Many people will need crisis communications support at some point, and simply considering what you would do in a bad situation is the first step in taking control of the narrative. Make sure you have a good support network around you. Take heart, you’re not alone and no one gets everything perfectly right the first time round, breathe deep and stay the course, and you will come out the other side.