Experts Share Top Indicators You Might Be Headed Towards A Crisis

Don’t ignore the warning signs!

Most would agree that it’s become an established best practice to make crisis management a part of day-to-day business. Of course we also know that, realistically, busy people have to prioritize their time, and not everyone has room on their plate to deep dive their own crisis-readiness or reputation every single day.

If that describes you, don’t worry! Our expert consultants are here to help you set those priorities and determine whether you’re seeing signs that it’s time to sit down and focus on crisis management, crisis communications, and the all-important reputation with these common indicators that show you may be heading towards a crisis scenario.

  1. You’re getting ready to deliver bad news.

While we’d all prefer to keep communications lighthearted and positive, sometimes you have to deliver unavoidable bad news. Take the changes in policy and schedules brought on by COVID for example – not popular, but you had to let people know! Any time you need to share news that might upset your target audience there should be a conversation about how to best convey the information, and what could go wrong in the process.

  1. You’re seeing a sudden influx of negative comments or reviews online.

How many reviews or comments, you’re probably asking? It’s all about the ratio. If you run a small business with ten reviews total, then two or three negatives in quick succession is a lot and you need to figure out what’s going on. Then again, if you’re a nationwide customer-facing brand with locations all over then double-digit negatives may be the norm for the weekend. Know what YOUR “norm” is and recognize it’s time to amplify your focus if you start to see a shift.

  1. You’ve been contacted by the media (or someone else’s lawyer) about a negative situation.

This one is fairly straightforward. If an attorney gets in touch about a negative situation then you have potential for something serious to emerge publicly, or possibly have something out there you didn’t spot already. If the media reaches out for a story, well, it’s red alert time and you should either turn to your crisis communications plans or call an expert immediately.

  1. Nobody on your team has been trained as a spokesperson.

If you do wind up needing to communicate with the media, or present potentially negative news to any important audience, then you’ll need a spokesperson. So, who’s yours?

An intensive media interview or even dealing with a room full of upset people – whether we’re talking customers, employees, local regulators, or anyone else – simply aren’t situations you “wing it” in unless you’d like to create or worsen a crisis for yourself. It’s important to be aware that public speaking is a challenge for many, even those who might otherwise consider themselves extremely social and outgoing, which means spokespeople should always have training and followup practice sessions to support.

  1. You don’t have crisis management or crisis communications plans in place.

I’ll say it again because it bears repeating…you can’t “wing it” with this stuff! While you may be able to squeak through in more minor situations with strong customer service, communications skills, and a bit of luck, encountering a situation that seriously interrupts your ability to do business without a plan in place is all but guaranteed to cost you more than it needed to in terms of money, morale, and lost productivity.

Looking to learn more about crisis and reputation management, including what’s involved in creating the types of plans we mention there? Head over to our article, What is Crisis Management and Why Do We Need A Plan? — The Expert’s Guide.

Though we do suggest having a full plan in place, even getting as simple a start as identifying who your core crisis decision-making team is and setting protocol for when that team needs to be gathered to discuss situations like those we’ve shared here can give you a serious head start.

Putting off crisis-related efforts for many years only to have a disaster crash down while you’re under-prepared isn’t fun, and fortunately you have the power to prevent it! Engage in preparedness efforts, avoid considering “winging it” as a valid strategy for handling tough spots, and empower your team to spot these top indicators you might be heading towards a crisis in their own work experiences.

Erik Bernstein