6 Spectacular Lessons That COVID-19 Taught Us About Crisis Management
Updated: Jan 29
Did you ever think you would find yourself managing a crisis during a crisis? Me, neither! While COVID-19 has definitely been an eye-opener on many fronts, there are some clear-cut lessons that we can definitely takeaway from life during a pandemic!
When it comes to crisis management, PR professionals and experts have a number of tricks up their sleeve. Here’s a sneak-peek into six things that we can all learn about managing a crisis from the biggest one of them all - COVID-19!
1. Not Everything Is ‘Urgent’
The first reaction that most individuals have, when faced with a crisis is to PANIC! Albeit a completely human reaction, it is important to note that the way a crisis is appraised will also dictate how well it gets managed. While it might be tempting to start shooting out emails with a red flag or using ‘URGENT’ in your subject line, take a breath and jot down what needs to be looked at immediately and what can wait in line.
2. You Can Manage A Crisis, From Your Couch
Gone are the days when you could rush to your colleague’s desk or hail a cab to sort out a media crisis that was taking place on ground! Remote work has made it possible to solve problems creatively, all while sitting at home. The in-person human interaction that was once considered so crucial to crisis management has been replaced by the ability to deliver the same results, virtually.
3. Crisis Management Is An Art, Not A Science
Leave the science to the scientists! Every crisis is different and calls for a unique management strategy. For example, a PR crisis that occurred 30 years ago would not have blown up on social media the way that it would have in today’s day and age. The art of crisis management is tricky, but once mastered, it can even be used to a brand’s advantage.
4. A Vacant CCO Position Is A Recipe For Disaster
If your brand does not have a designated Corporate Communications Officer (CCO) or a crisis management team, now is the time to budget for one. The whole point of having an in-house resource or a PR agency to manage a crisis, is so that when the need arises, brands aren’t scrambling to put out a politically correct statement in order to save face.
5. Keep It Simply, Silly
Yes, we’re talking about the language that your brand uses. Healthcare professionals across the globe made one thing very clear – wash your hands, wear a mask and maintain social distancing. When communicating an important message, keep your language crisp, to the point and easy to understand. For example, when Apple’s Tim Cook tweeted “We've now sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain", it could have very well been plainly communicated as "We are donating over 20M masks to healthcare professionals..."
6. And Finally, No Amount Of Planning Can Predict The Enormity Of A Crisis
It is human tendency to want to be prepared for what’s to come. While there is nothing wrong with a little extra planning, it is impossible to predict if and when a crisis will arise. This is not to say that brands can take a backseat when it comes to having a crisis management strategy in place. Hiring a PR agency that can carefully mitigate a crisis and create a foolproof communications plan for your brand is a great way to stay ahead of the game.
It is time to deepen our understanding of the importance of communication, reputation and crisis management for brands, business leaders and employees. COVID-19 has been a complete blow to the economy, but it has taught us that even in times of distress, we can take a breath and plan our next move with a clear motive in mind.