Common traps companies fall into when it comes to crisis management

Jonathan Faurie
Founder Turnaround Talk

Last week, we took a closer look at crisis management asking whether there is a way to effectively measure the impact of your client’s response to a crisis.

Did you find value in it? Are there any principles from the Forbes article that can be applied to rescues that you implement for your clients?

The issue of crisis management was recently raised once again in the media. Eskom’s woes continue to grow after the utility reported that municipal debt increased by 35% to over R35 billion. If this is not signs of a company that is in crisis, I do not know what is. A closer look at the headlines on News24 (on 6 September) attention is drawn to: Coega Steel slapped with prohibition notice after not reporting furnace explosion and mining-related deaths cast dark shadow over companies’ golden cycle of high profits.

The belief that there is no such thing as bad publicity is flawed. Bad publicity can be a root cause of distress as it can fundamentally damage a brand.

Lets go back to the Forbes article and focus on the remaining seven steps a BRP can use to measure their clients response to a crisis.

Measure how quickly the news cycle passes
The best measure is no measure at all. When companies face a crisis, they often hope to turn a negative into a positive quickly.

This is misguided because humans need time to process. Time will heal the perception, but in the immediate aftermath, the best measure is how little talk there is about your company. If the news cycle has passed you by relatively quickly, that’s a win for the crisis team.

Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

Monitor your social media to quickly respond to customers
Crisis management and response are critical to prepare for today. Everyone needs to know their role, what they do and when.

Taking immediate, damage-minimizing action is critical. To measure the impact of a crisis response, monitor your social media to protect your brand reputation and ensure quick customer responses. The availability and accountability of prime stakeholders is also very important and impacts the response.

Gily Netzer, Cymulate – Continuous Security Validation

It back to the drawing board for some companies
Image By: StartupStockPhotos via Pixabay

Measure traffic to your website to evaluate engagement
Measuring traffic to your website is an important way to measure the impact of your crisis response. The number of people visiting the homepage or your news page are important measures of engagement with your stakeholders, supporters, donors and more.

If trends are higher or lower than they are at non-crisis times, you’ll have a good indication of how successful your response is.

Brittney Manchester, CVS Health

Measure the KPIS that matter to your organization
There are several key performance indicators to consider, and they’ll differ by organization. For example, the KPIs may be customer response, sales or stock price for one, but for others, the KPIs may be employee or supply chain feedback.

The essential question, “How will we measure success?” should be asked at the start of the crisis, and be incorporated into the goal for a well-constructed strategy.

Deborah Farone, Farone Advisors

Measure share of voice data, NPS scores and revenue
Any crisis communications expert will say that every crisis is an opportunity. In that crucible, companies can create and/or affirm integrity based on their response.

Being proactive, transparent and accountable can leave a company stronger than it was before the crisis. This strength can be measured by positive share of voice data, NPS scores and, ultimately, revenue.

Kelly Grover, Taconic Biosciences

View metrics and company actions as part of a holistic picture
Do not look at the available metrics—sales feedback, social media responses, media coverage, website traffic and so on—in isolation.

All metrics should be viewed as part of a holistic picture of the crisis response. Then, look at how quickly the company’s actions allowed the crisis to end.

Kris Pugsley, Skyworks Solutions, Inc.

Use ‘normal’ metrics to analyze impacts hour by hour
In a true crisis, hour-by-hour analysis is important.

Review social media, press coverage, opposition coverage and more, and make sure you use metrics similar to those of a “normal” campaign: sentiment, reach, share of voice and key message penetration. After the crisis has subsided, consider surveys to determine reputational impact in communities of interest.

Jessica Pantages, NSF International

It is key to learn about good habit formulation
Image By: StockSnap via Pixabay

Learn about good habit forming
We always hear that success is often a result of following good habits. While this is true, it is important to remember that the other side of that coin is also true. Failure often is a result of following bad habits.

The difficulty is that CEOs may not be aware that their particular habits are bad or good ones. This often needs to be pointed out to them. I recently read an article on which details some bad habits and how they can be detrimental to leaders within a business.

Looking outside yourself
The article points out that it’s always a good idea to stay on top of trends within your industry. But there’s a big difference between being aware of what’s out there and obsessively comparing yourself to everyone else.

Your definition of success is exactly that — yours. If you’re constantly looking around to see what others are doing, you’re not focusing on achieving your own goals. Fixating on the perceived successes of others also leaves you open to self-doubt and negative thinking, both of which can be fatal to success.

The article adds that the same goes for seeking approval from others. Yes, outside input can be incredibly helpful for getting clarity on your vision, or seeing something from a different perspective. But asking for constructive criticism is not the same as needing constant validation from everyone else. Not everyone is going to understand your goals, and that’s okay. Have the confidence to forge your own path and stay on it.

Trying to do it all
The article points out that when a business leader first launches a company, they are often responsible for every aspect of that company. It can be a humbling learning experience, and it helped inform what leaders look for when it comes to hiring a team and delegating the tasks that need to keep the business running.

Because, painful though it can be to admit, you can’t do everything yourself. Dividing your attention between too many activities means you’re unlikely to be doing any one of them well. Failing to delegate also means you’re expending precious energy on things you don’t even enjoy. And when you do hand a task over to someone else, let them do it their way. Micromanaging is not only a poor use of your time, it will also inevitably lead to resentment from your team. If you don’t trust your employees to do their jobs, ask yourself why that is. Is it that they’re underperforming? Or is it that you’re having a hard time letting go? Either one points to a larger issue that needs to be addressed.

The article adds that saying “yes” to too much is a similar trap. If you agree to something you don’t really have the time — or inclination — to do, who are you helping? You’re far better off just saying “no” than making a promise you can’t deliver on.

Losing sight of your goals
The article points out that, sometimes, it can feel like running a company means just putting out one fire after the next. Still, it’s important not to get so caught up in the day-to-day that you forget your long-term objectives.

Why? First off, struggling to keep your head above water is a surefire way to burn out. Secondly, having a clear vision keeps you from dwelling to much on small setbacks. Obstacles are frustrating no matter what but looking at the bigger picture makes it easier to put them in perspective.

This is one area in which the movies have it right: Failure will happen, but it isn’t cause to give up. Rather than being consumed by it, people with long-term thinking view their failures as lessons, and learn from them the next time around. Over time, you’ll take setbacks less personally, and understand them as part of the long road of success. Because success isn’t what you find at the end of the road, it is the road. Pace yourself.