Building a Crisis Management Plan in the Digital Age

Crisis management for enterprise organizations is more important than ever – and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult. Recent reports show that more than half of consumers expect brands to respond to a breaking crisis within an hour.

Online activism, cybersecurity, fake news or misinformation, technology collapse, and viral media now pose an ever-present threat to brand reputation. News is breaking at lightning speed thanks to hyperconnected social sharing platforms, and if you’re not paying attention, you could get left behind.

95% of business leaders say their crisis management capabilities need improvement. In traditional crisis management models, a well-timed press release might have been enough to fight off-brand defamation. These days, you’re going to need a more integrated, system-wide approach.

Keep reading to discover six key considerations for the modern-day crisis management plan.

Crisis Management Is the Rule, Not the Exception

In the digital-first landscape, frequent crises and issues facing your brand are to be expected.

Reputational crises are commonplace in the corporate arena. In fact, 69% of business leaders reported experiencing at least one crisis over a period of five years, with the average number of crises being three. The unfortunate truth is that complex, multifaceted issues are right around your doorstep.

This does not mean your brand’s crisis communications team should leave it all up to fate – staying engaged in your organization’s (and your competitor’s) online presence will help you stay ahead of the curve.

 

Make Room for Diversity

Diversity can no longer be treated as a buzzword, it needs to be an integral part of your business. Equality and inclusion are the new name of the game. People want brands to reflect their own unique, lived experiences and consumers are quick to call out brands who don’t meet this standard.

Emphasizing diverse voices not only adds to a positive brand image, but it also contributes to a more inclusive media space in general. Consider expanding your brand’s diversity communication efforts, both internally and externally.

Crisis Planning Must Be Digital-Centric

The way we assess risk, create response actions, and manage damage control in crisis planning must be centered around the digital landscape.

Today, PR crisis management is almost exclusively concerned with a brand’s digital presence, be it social media, search, web, or the like.

Therefore, crisis planning should focus the bulk of its resources on prevention and recovery within the digital landscape. Your crisis management team must be able to navigate this space efficiently. Make sure your communications team is well equipped to present on an array of digital channels.

Capitalize on the Tools You Already Have

Just like your audience, your organization can speak swiftly on an issue.

Utilize digital communication tools to monitor your social presence and engage when necessary. Practice active social listening to gain a better grasp on your customers’ concerns.

Monitoring your brand’s digital presence will help with fast issue detection and can even allow your team to stop a crisis before it begins.

Prepare for Quick Responses

Modern day consumers want answers, fast. When a problematic story breaks, people seek out information immediately – and if they don’t get it directly from your organization, you can bet they will find more information (or misinformation) elsewhere.

In a crisis, organizations must be able to act with urgency while avoiding a reactive, insincere response. While it’s true that the traditional press release is a dying art, curating pre-drafted messages that can be edited in real time is still considered best practice.

Make time for crisis management training sessions with your communications team and run through potential scenarios. The more prepared your team is, the easier it will be to recover when disaster strikes.

If you want to double down on your crisis preparedness efforts, check out MWW’s Crisis Simulator tool — a realistic crisis training experience designed to test organizational plans, evaluate response, and ensure readiness before a disaster occurs.

Constantly Update Your Plan

Crises are more nuanced than ever, and it will take your entire crisis communications team – in conjunction with customer service, marketing, and data management – to stay on top of crisis management best practices.

With the right tools, creating a modern crisis management plan can be a simple, highly rewarding process. MWW is equipped with advanced issues and crisis management guidance. We approach crisis engagements with a foundation of reputation management best practices, along with the commitment of a senior team that is practiced, capable, and understands how each of your audiences can be impacted. The agency has expanded its offering of vulnerability assessments, crisis planning, and table-top exercises to include a suite of innovative digital tools and services, from predictive analytics that improve issues management, to crisis planning and response effectiveness.

With over 35 years of experience, we can offer your organization crisis management planning you can trust.

Learn more by connecting with our team today.

 

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