The furore – and shambles – surrounding the fiasco around the late publication of this year’s school SATs exams starkly highlights how to not to handle a crisis. So, if the boss of ETS, the company in charge of the marking, is reading then here are Quest PR’s top tips for keeping your reputation as intact as possible during a crisis:
- Firstly set in place a crisis plan for your business – before a crisis hits. This entails compiling a document of worse case scenarios and how you will respond to them.
- Commission media training experts such as Quest PR who understand the media to compile a series of questions reporters will ask
- Decide upon an allocated spokesperson within your organisation to liaise with all media enquiries. Choosing the right person who comes across as credible, accountable and genuinely sympathetic to the situation – is vital.
- Always remember that honesty is the best policy – covering up information will inevitably come back to bite you.
- If you are unprepared and a crisis hits – recognise and admit your mistakes – your stakeholders, viewers, readers and the media will be much more forgiving.
- Implement a comprehensive recovery plan that encompasses your staff, customers and stakeholders to ensure that your business is back on track as soon as possible.
- Maintain a warm and friendly manner with journalists throughout the crisis and going forward, particularly if you have previously failed to nurture and develop relationships with reporters. They are the ones that can make or break you so try to keep them on your side.
- Don’t run away from the media and say ‘no comment’, if you create a vacuum of information then the journalists will fill it with speculation and rumour, emphasising any previous negative publicity your company may have attracted.
- Finally, don’t forget that the media’s attention will move on however your customers are the ones left picking up the pieces so focus on keeping them on board and minimising the damage to your bottom line – ETS is now in danger of losing its £154 million contract as a result of this incompetence.
For anyone else about to go through a crisis then one mistake you won’t make is calling the crisis communications team at Quest PR.