This is a topic which has been brought to the public eye broadly over the past few months; and it’s certainly caught my interest as a discussion point. How avoidable are these incidents, and how do companies of all sizes react and attempt to prevent them from happening? Very much easier said than done I would suspect.
Unlike Pepsi and United Airlines, entrepreneurs and small businesses do not have huge crisis management teams to reconcile external relations when things go wrong. Huge budgets are also available to limit the damage already incurred. But what would the ideal philosophy be to adopt? Well, a preventative strategy is certainly advised as a good starting point. Cynics may classify this as pessimism but in reality it should be regarded as realism.
Businesses along the whole spectrum of size can experience negative public relations, which can then prove to be harmful to their brand. For SME’s, negative press could occur in regional or local news which in turn is similar to poor word of mouth escalating.
In dealing with sure measures; I’ve selected three key areas I’d recommend keeping at the back of your mind when running your business:
1. Understand exactly what the situation is and ascertain all the facts is key. So then you know exactly what needs to be done first. Priority is key! Evaluating what the potential impact could be is important as you need to know what you’re dealing with. Throughout this you should draw up a core communication plan to convey to stakeholders and any prospective customers, as you could be scrutinized with a wrong or delayed message.
2. Acknowledge the issue and apologise to whoever has been affected. An outside-in approach is advisable so the perception of the business and situation is fully understood. A business could end up being fixated with internal activities so that they end up neglecting what the real public opinion involves.
3. Managing expectations. With the emergence of social media as an example, in more frequent cases small businesses are becoming the architects of their own downfalls by ill managing customer and public expectations of them. Bigger businesses can in theory take the hit, but SME’s are often more reliant on word of mouth business and hits; with information available instantly bad publicity can spread like wildfire.
This post was written by Chris Beck