When you think of business crisis scenarios, retailers, restaurants and other companies that interface directly with consumers probably come to mind first. However, a crisis can be equally serious for a company that focuses on the B2B market. For instance, workplace accidents, network outages, natural disasters, federal investigations and employee grievances can happen to any business and be a major concern for your customers.
Here are some tips on how to effectively address a B2B crisis, thanks to information discussed at a panel discussion hosted by the Chicago Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) Chapter this month:
1. Consider all audiences.
When crafting a media statement or any messaging around a crisis, think about who you’re talking to. In addition to the media, you’ll have to address other stakeholder groups that may include employees, investors and customers. While the underlying key points should be consistent, some details and delivery will vary based on the needs of each group.
2. Check your facts.
When preparing a statement for the media, double-source the facts. You need to be extra careful that you’re not disseminating incorrect information, especially when it’s likely to be distributed far and wide. Also, determine what you can and can’t legally share.
3. Keep an eye out.
Social media monitoring is essential during a crisis. If you need to respond to a comment, make sure the response is published where the conversation is happening, so the desired audience sees it. Sometimes it’s best not to respond in order to avoid drawing additional attention to the issue.
4. Assess analytics.
If you have a social media-related crisis, review your social media and website analytics to determine the online reach and impact of the crisis. It’s possible that you are overestimating the impact of the problem.
5. Make a plan.
Create a crisis communications plan that covers different scenarios and gives you the kind of information you’ll need to act immediately. In the plan, designate a cross-functional team to handle a crisis. This will usually include an attorney, an HR representative, someone from the communications or PR department, and a “quarterback” who can take charge. Simulate crisis scenarios with the team to test how they respond. Make sure they are able to work together, strategize, communicate and trust each other.
When responding to a crisis, rely on the core values and principles of the company to guide your communications and decision-making. The key is to be prepared for not “if” something will happen, but “when.” Being prepared will help you respond quickly and limit long-term damage to your brand.