With organisations increasingly at the mercy of tech-savvy consumers, what begins as a corporate slip-up can quickly descend into a nation-wide scandal.
However, how a scandal is perceived, and duly handled, depends very much on whether it was an internal fault or an external accident.
The latter can be easily forgiven, but the former takes a tad more work.
“One of the most common situation leading to a PR disaster is an internal mishap in communications”.
There are a few steps that employers can take in order to recover. First of all, companies tend to be very externally focused during a crisis. They worry about consumers, the media, the government and investors; meaning they often overlook their staff. In a PR calamity, one of the worst long-term impacts an organization can suffer through is losing good employees or struggling to attract talent in the future.
Both externally, and internally, you have to acknowledge what the problem is and take responsibility for fixing it. That doesn’t mean you’re taking responsibility for the problem itself, but you have to take control of the situation.
“In terms of addressing employees, you can’t tell them everything that’s going on as it’s just not practical or sensible. However, you should keep them in the loop in a broader sense, i.e. what the company is doing to overcome the issues at hand, where they stand and so on. You should also brief employees on what they should and should not say, because people need to know what to tell their families and friends in these kinds of situations.”
As for one piece of take-away advice, remember to safeguard your most important asset.
“In a crisis, companies tend to look outside, but the impact on employees can be severe. Ignoring and neglecting their employees is definitely the most common mistake leaders make in a PR nightmare – and it’s also the one that can do the most long-term damage.”