In a crisis, there
are four questions that need to be addressed:
1) How did this happen?
2) Who is to blame?
3) Is it going to happen again? and
4) What are you doing to prevent this in the future?
If a leader errs in how they respond to the first question, they risk setting the stage for the crisis to spread. Be careful to avoid these missteps:
· Relying solely on a legal response. Pursuing some legal action could help set the right tone from the beginning but be careful not to stonewall. It’s better to align legal and communication strategies.
· Shifting blame. This approach often creates more questions or erodes whatever credibility is left after a crisis begins. It’s important to acknowledge your responsibilities and the actions you’ll be taking to resolve the crisis.
· Accepting blame vs.taking responsibility. A well-intentioned leader may offer such a broad apology that the public thinks the company is at fault, even if the facts are not yet clear. A company’s first steps should include immediately addressing the impacts of the crisis while sorting out what went wrong.
Read our article in Risk Management to learn about how companies can properly plan for a crisis and avoid these common missteps.