News travels fast in the information age.
If your company finds itself in a compromising situation, every second counts, and the following tips can help you contain the situation before it becomes a crisis.
Let clearer heads prevail.
Before making any public statement, gather all relevant facts, anticipate possible outcomes, and discuss options internally. Decide what you will and will not own up to, especially if litigation is a possible consequence. Act quickly, but always deliberately. A rushed apology could end up making things worse.
Use social media to your advantage.
Responding to comments from a disillusioned public shows a willingness to listen and accept criticism. If you can’t respond to every comment, then make sure you at least address the main concerns people have about the incident.
Even if your company made an honest mistake, the worst thing you can do is pass the buck. This doesn’t mean confessing to things your company didn’t do, of course. It means listening to the public, expressing regret for what happened, and promising that you’ll take precautions to prevent it from happening in the future.
Be clear and concise.
People can spot a fake or flimsy apology. Try to avoid passive or ambiguous language (i.e., “Mistakes were made”), excuses, or other defensive tactics. Lengthy explanations, even if true, may be construed as attempts to shift some of the blame or even garner sympathy for your company.
It can hurt to swallow your pride, especially when you truly believe that your company is innocent. But remember, even the best companies change and evolve in response to the needs of their clients. Take this opportunity to show how yours will improve in the future.