Kick Start Your Crisis Communications During the Golden Hour with Three Critical Steps.
By Nichole Culverwell, Chart. PR, MCIPR.
When considering best practice for handling a crisis, you may have heard the term ‘golden hour’.
The term originally referred to the period between a crisis occurring and the point at which the media came knocking on your door.
Of course nowadays, thanks to online news and social media, the golden hour is more like minutes.
But the fact remains that how you start your crisis management will set the tone of your campaign and can make a critical difference to how well your brand manages and survives the problem.
So, how can you make the most of the few minutes and hours at the very start of a crisis?
Step 1 – define the crisis
Firstly, recognise what constitutes a crisis versus a minor issue. It is highly emotive? Does it highlight an internal flaw or failing? Is it contentious, controversial or have a significant impact on stakeholders or the public? And, of course, is it likely to be of interest to the media, pressure groups and other influencers?
Knowing what problems you face and scoping out the consequences are vital first steps towards taking appropriate action.
Step 2 – start talking
Secondly, communicate what you know, as soon as you know it. Even if you don’t have all the answers. Tell the audience when you will update them again – and keep that promise, even if you still don’t have all the facts.
Simply stick to the facts and never embellish, make assumptions or speculate.
Keep communicating and remember the four Cs of every good crisis management statement:
- Care and concern for those/that affected
- Control of the situation
- Commitment to resolving
Step 3 – research and plan
Once you are on the front foot with your communications, it’s time to do more research and put a plan for next steps into place.
Consider the likely consequences, how stakeholders, the industry and your audience will respond and the short, mid and long-term effects of this issue on your organisation and its publics. Try to expect the unexpected and consider worst-case scenarios.
Plan your responses and start work on actions to mitigate the issue as soon as possible.
Crisis planning for better crisis management
Of course, crisis management and your response to the golden hour becomes much easier if you have the right crisis communications plans in place.
Crisis communications planning means you’ll have looked at the risk scenarios, considered how they might play out and the potential consequences. You’ll have identified your issues management team (IMT), have pre-prepared statements to hand, lists of relevant media and stakeholders and an agreed plan of action.
Crisis planning means you tackle the issue on the front foot, helping your organisation to manage and recover from the crisis more quickly and efficiently, minimising the reputational damage and the impact on your bottom line.
Talk to Black Vanilla about crisis communications planning – we can help you make the most of that golden hour: firstname.lastname@example.org