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Here are 6 common myths about crisis communications—and the truth behind them:


1. A crisis won’t strike my business

It’s easy to assume that a crisis won’t happen, but in reality almost 60 per cent of business decision makers have experienced a crisis within their career. The types of crises a company can experience haven’t changed all that much, such as a product defect or a bad spokesperson soundbite. The issue now lies in where these crises play out – on the public social media stage. Presuming that your company will never have a crisis will only lead to an unprepared PR plan, which won’t win your company any points with the public.


2. I can’t plan for a crisis

While a crisis situation may seem out of reach, it is easy to get prepared when things are good and quiet. Consider pre-planning ideas such as creating a risk vs. benefit map, taking a look at any pre-existing business continuity plans or by conducting a vulnerability assessment can help you create an effective crisis plan. It’s also important to monitor social platforms for spikes, relevant hashtags, industry-specific news and competitor knowledge.  This knowledge will make it easier for your team to identify a crisis much earlier.


3. Avoid social media in a crisis

At our last Breakfast with the Media event, our panel of journalists strongly recommended acknowledging any breaking news on your company’s Twitter feed – especially after hours.

This is especially important, as companies have about 15 minutes to respond to something on social media before that information is spread elsewhere by others. Companies should also have a social media policy in effect so that employees know what they can and cannot address online. This should be coupled with an open, two-way communication between front-line employees and the C-suite.


4. The crisis will just blow over

When it comes to company news, your team needs to be in front of it, offering comment or clarification. Otherwise, you give less credible third-party sources the opportunity to provide inaccurate or incorrect information, which can be disseminated quickly over social media. Essentially, “if you don’t talk, others will.”


5. “No comment” is acceptable

No journalist wants to hear this statement, as it’s often interpreted as evasive and an admission of guilt. It can also lead to an “ambush” interview from an investigative reporter, which can be a communications nightmare. Understandably some organizations cannot actually comment, for legal or other reasons. In this case, avoid a simple “no comment” by saying something like this instead, “I can’t comment on market speculation/on an active police investigation/until I have more information.”


6. Your crisis team = only your PR team

Certainly, your PR and communications teams should be involved with crisis management, but they can’t be the only ones at the table. When crisis strikes, your legal department will want to be involved, and their priorities will be wildly different from communications. Have them involved early to ensure that both groups understand how issues will be handled and communicated. Also, have senior management involved in the crisis planning stages, which will help blend your organization’s natural silos into one cohesive team.

About Melissa Meyer

Melissa Meyer is Cision’s Manager of Community and oversees Cision’s online customer community, Cision City. She has over 5 years’ experience in PR, writing, community and social media management. You can find her chatting about all thing PR, pop culture and basketball @_MelissaMeyer

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