Published on 20th April 2013 by Erik Bernstein.
Be the source of information and stop damaging rumor and innuendo in their tracks
A huge part of successful crisis management is finding, or creating, the opportunity to tell your own story. Why, you might ask? The main reason is that it’s going to be told either way, and if you clam up, it won’t be people with your best interests in mind who do the telling.
One of our favorite sayings is, “in the absence of communication, rumor and innuendo fill the gap.” Would you rather get out there and talk, or have your detractors, competition, or random speculators on social media fill in the gaps with whatever fancies them?
How can you be in position to take control of the story? Here are a few tips:
Preparation: There’s what word again, “preparation.” It’s not by chance that this step appears in just about every crisis management how-to we publish. Preparing crisis plans, messaging, etc. is THE premiere way to ensure that you’re ready to react to a crisis while others are still standing in the gates.
Communication: Want to be the source of the story? Make it easy. Have an online newsroom, not tucked away behind some teeny-tiny link at the bottom of your site, but in a highly visible location somewhere up top. Fill it with the latest information on your organization and the current crisis, so that media or stakeholders looking for the latest info “straight from the horse’s mouth” are actually able to find it at any time of day, from anywhere in the world. In addition, make yourself readily available to stakeholders and the media alike, so that when they hear negative chatter it’ll be run by you before being repeated.
Relationships: Despite what some would have you believe, media relations have not gone the way of the Dodo. In fact, the rise of e-reporting via social media has made it even more important to build strong relationships with the people who cover your industry, whether accredited reporter or mommy blogger. For instance, if you scratch a few backs by sharing any juicy scoops you can offer, chances are you’ll get a chance to speak your piece when reporting negative news about your organization.
If you don’t leave gaps in the story, then rumor and innuendo have nowhere to gain a foothold. Take these lessons to heart, and become the go-to source for information in your next crisis.