As the saying goes, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Sometimes, no matter how hard a tech business tries to prevent a crisis, one happens anyway. This could be due to many factors, such as data breaches, product flaws, supply issues, and misinformation or fake news.
A PR crisis negatively impacts a business’ reputation. According to research from Clutch, a damaged reputation can lead to loss of trust, which in turn results in business losses.
Technology PR firms can help businesses mitigate the impact of such factors on their reputation through a sound crisis communication plan.
Crisis Prevention: Not Always an Option
The best way to manage a PR crisis is to make sure it never happens in the first place. For example, stringent quality control processes at parts manufacturing plants can help prevent product flaws, which will prevent recalls. Data protection systems and onsite security policies help minimize the risk of breaches.
However, there are some things that you can’t realistically expect. Natural disasters, while not a PR crisis in itself, can turn into one if handled badly. Fake news and misinformation, as well as undeserved bad reviews from disgruntled celebrities and influencers, can tarnish a firm’s image.
While you can’t predict these PR crises, you can prepare for them with a crisis communication plan. By doing so, you can help ensure your business survives the bad press and even turn it into a marketing opportunity.
Crisis Communication in Action
One example is Tesla. In 2013, a man was driving his Model S on a highway when he accidentally ran over a large metallic object. It damaged the front of his vehicle extensively and caused a fire in its lithium-ion battery.
Tesla acted quickly, reaching out to the owner of the Tesla S to explain what caused the fire and apologize. The firm was also transparent about the incident, posting correspondence between the vehicle owner and Tesla officers on their official website.
Just three days after the incident, CEO and founder Elon Musk posted a statement on the Tesla blog that detailed exactly how the incident happened and how it wasn’t as worrisome as it appeared. Their transparent and efficient approach to crisis communication helped calm fears over the safety of Tesla vehicles.
Making a Crisis Communication Plan for Your Business
A crisis communication plan refers to how a company should respond and communicate to customers and stakeholders during and after a crisis. As Tesla showed, it is possible to bounce back from a disaster through a crisis communication plan.
To help prepare your business for the inevitable and the unexpected, outline your own crisis communication plan by following these steps:
Create a Crisis Communications Team
To begin, identify which employees should handle crisis communications. The CEO typically leads, and other members can be public relations executives or outside consultants, lawyers, and senior executives from each of your departments. Additionally, assess your team and choose which employees to train in advance for spokesperson duties.
Know Your Stakeholders
In the event of a crisis, determine who needs to know what. Create a list of stakeholders, their interest in your organization, and the messages you want them to receive.
Brainstorm Potential Scenarios
Make a list of possible crises and worst-case scenarios that could negatively affect your company’s reputation. If your organization has known vulnerabilities or if there are events in the future, such as a layoff or merger, that could result in bad press, make sure to take those into account when creating your list.
Create Appropriate Responses
Consider various factors, such as the nature of the crisis, the affected parties, and your communication goal, when developing responses to each of the scenarios you’ve identified in the previous step.
How a PR Firm Can Help Your Business With Crisis Communication
Public relations professionals understand the need for a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach to crisis communication. A PR agency not only assists you during the planning stage but also guides you through the execution of your plan and post-crisis recovery.
PR experts with a solid foundation in crisis management will help you navigate the storm so your business can come safely out the other side with your reputation intact.
If you need to create a crisis communication plan for your tech company, contact ReBlonde Public Relations for a free consultation. We are an award-winning technology PR company that knows your industry and market.