Because shit will hit the fan.

It will. And it can happen to anyone. Because no matter how well you manage your business, or business unit, stuff happens that’s outside of your control.

I’ve wanted to blog about crisis management for years. It stemmed from my contract to deal with the tourism fall out after the Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef. That was big stuff. Oil on the beach just months out from people pouring into Mount Maunganui and Papamoa for their summer holidays. Then in a much smaller way, I was reminded what a crisis feels like this year when something much, much less signficant happened to my own business that was out of my control.

There are endless streams of information around crisis management and some businesses will have formal systems in place for this very threat. If you haven’t got such systems, or the appetite for them, my simple thinking is that you at least want to have your ‘house’ in order.  If you’ve got good foundations in place, you’re 1) strong and b) ready to respond if necessary.

In marketing terms, having your house in order includes:

  • A modern logo that represents the quality of products and/or services your business offers. A crisis is not the time to say that your business offers so much more than it appears.
  • Good website, which again represents what you do well but is also easy to jump in and add new content relating to the crisis if required.
  • Key messages that you can refer to, and add to, so you retain consistency before and after the crisis. You may pen some additional messages specific to the crisis but your core focus will remain the same.
  • Up-to-date database/s including email addresses and a publishing platform like Mailchimp in place. Have this and you can quickly keep your customers, colleagues and/or media up-to-date, put counter-crisis promotions into place etc.
  • Social media pages, and ideally a strong following because they’re more channels at your finger tips to get quick messages out – whether the messages are in relation to the crisis itself or you want to ramp up communications and campaigns because the crisis means you have to work harder for your sales.
  • Professional photography and videos at the ready so you have quality eye catching content to include on any material.
  • A steady stream of communications and/or campaigns already in place so your audiences are used to hearing from you.
  • Good public relations. Having the public aware and on board with your vision will help ensure that they’re on your side for any speed wobbles or anything more serious.
  • Diverse product range so if the market falls out of one, you have product recall etc then you have other revenue streams to draw from.
  • Routine price changes so if you’re getting a good return for what you do, and if you need to alter restructure your pricing because of the crisis your customers are somewhat used to it.

Stay positive
What you do in response to the crisis will very much depend on the situation. You may have to respond to the crisis head-on but in many cases, you might be able to focus on the positive by promoting what you can still do or alternative offerings. While the crisis will be all you are thinking of, where possible you want to avoid drawing any more attention to the issue than is already out there.

If these images make the media…

Photo credit: Kim Westerskov

Then make sure these ones do too!

Photo credit: Graeme Brown, Maritime NZ

Fortunately for Shout Marketing, the relatively small crisis that the business faced was not public, so no public response was required. It did rattle me though, and once I sorted the issue itself, I had time to think about my business, what it means to me and how it might be seen by others. We’ve done loads in the last 12 months to get the ‘Shout Marketing house’ in order which meant we were well placed to brush off the incident.  I was so grateful for this.

How would your business fare?