6 Steps to Effective Media Crisis Management

Written by Lars Damgaard Nielsen
6 Steps to Effective Media Crisis Management

In recent years, many brands have experienced a roller coaster ride of trying to manage external crises out of their control in addition to internal reputation-harming misconduct or negligence. The media has documented plenty of stories centering around these challenging and often dire brand management situations - some ending with strong recoveries while others going down further after inadequate response strategies were implemented.

The truth is that a media crisis can strike at any time and for any number of reasons.

Maybe an employee did something irresponsible and it was caught on camera, or perhaps your company was criticized by a celebrity during a podcast interview and the comment went viral.

Also, companies that seek to capitalize on relationships with famous figures must be ready for the possibility of costly reputational damage. In today's fast-moving digital environment, quick action is essential in combating controversy - failure to react swiftly can cost a brand dearly.

For example, Adidas recently weathered a storm of controversy related to their collaboration with Kanye West, proving that when it comes to working with celebrities, brand decisions must be carefully weighed against potential risks. The contractual considerations between the celebrity and the company are important factors in how brands decide on an appropriate response strategy.

Whatever the case may be, it's important to be prepared with a media crisis management plan. How you manage everyday exchanges on the media can impact how effectively your brand handles a crisis. Your practices and approach to controversies offer an opportunity for growth, as it allows feedback from your community that could help resolve any awkward issues—ultimately strengthening both customer relations and public opinion of your business.

So here we listed 6 simple steps that will help you effectively navigate a media crisis.

The first step is to plan ahead. This means having a clear understanding of your company's values and messaging, as well as developing relationships with key media outlets before a crisis strikes. That way, when the time comes, you'll already have a trusted relationship in place.

The second step is to monitor your company name, products, brands, spokesperson, and related topics closely. This means staying up-to-date on what's being said about your company and industry in the media. Be sure to set up a media monitoring tool like MediaCatch Pulse for your company so you're immediately notified whenever there's a relevant mention on the media. 

The third step is to develop a strategy. Avoid chaos during a crisis by pre-planning and assembling an emergency communications team. Account for all responsibilities, including who will monitor social media response, to ensure smooth and effective operations in the face of any calamity. This means knowing who you need to reach out to and what you need to say. It's also important to consider what kind of tone you want to strike—whether it be apologetic, defiant, or somewhere in between. Once you've developed your strategy, be sure to put it in writing so everyone on your team is on the same page.

The fourth step is to execute the plan. This means reaching out to key media outlets and influencers, as well as monitoring and responding to comments on social media. Remember to stay on message and be consistent with your communications.

The fifth step is to evaluate the results of your efforts. This means taking a close look at how the situation played out in the media. Be sure to note what worked well and what could have been done better for future reference.

The sixth and final step is to refine your strategy based on what you learned from evaluating the results of your efforts. This means making changes to your plan so that you're better prepared next time (hope not!) a crisis strikes.

Dealing with a media crisis can be stressful and difficult, but with the right preparation and execution, it doesn't have to be overwhelming. To ensure your crisis plan is put into action, it's essential to make sure the right people know about and are part of its implementation. Start by discussing with your manager on who should be included in the initial rollout - this may include executive leadership or other key personnel depending on how broad you need coverage for a potential incident. From there, house the document somewhere digital so that everyone involved has quick access when needed; such secure locations could range from an intranet page to a central server or wiki system, then reviewed annually as team roles change and contact information evolves over time.

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