Crisis communications is a cornerstone at Franco. I’m passionate about providing crisis and reputation management counsel because I have a strong desire to solve problems, uncover the truth and help my clients deliver their message in good times and bad. Over the years, Franco has helped countless businesses protect their brand and reputation – from labor and environmental issues to federal investigations, product recalls and data privacy breaches – we’ve seen it all.

And each time I think I’ve seen it all, a new challenge presents itself and I go into problem-solving mode and around-the-clock counsel.

Let’s back it up for a moment to talk about what services we provide: proactive and reactive.

Proactive

The most effective way to manage a brand crisis is to plan and practice. We love creating crisis communications plans for clients that can be tailored and implemented in specific crisis scenarios like clockwork. Creating a strong plan begins with answering the right questions.

Let’s use an example of a restaurant facing accusations of widespread food poisoning. What questions will you be asked by the media, your customers and possibly even investigators? Who are your suppliers? What are their procedures for food management? How are your employees trained and held accountable for proper food handling? You get the point. Information is power. Once all that information is compiled, we can develop a comprehensive fact sheet that anticipates the tough questions and makes answering them a bit easier.

Crisis plans are not effective if they sit on a shelf. We encourage clients to practice crisis scenarios and often facilitate crisis drills with our clients. Real-life practice is the best way to earn your crisis communications stripes, but crisis drills can be an effective way to prepare for the real thing.

Reactive

This is where a crisis kicks off and then we get the call to help. Working with an agency means that someone is on-call 24/7 to staff, monitor or counsel you through any situation. A crisis is disruptive to business and clients value our accessibility, commitment and round-the-clock counsel during these times. I’ve often been “in the bunker” alongside clients for days or weeks at a time. When working reactively, we employ the same approach – ask lots of questions, identify and prioritize stakeholders, prepare spokesperson, create feedback chain, etc. But in reactive scenarios, clients don’t have the ability to practice in advance, so it’s a “build the plane while you fly it” approach. Not as reassuring as working from a strategic plan, but our years of crisis experience help clients feel comfortable and reassured under pressure.

Crisis Tip Sheet

  • Outline your crisis team: who provides resources, who makes decisions, how/when are they accessible, etc.
  • Know the facts
  • Identify and prioritize audiences
  • Identify and prepare spokesperson
  • Communicate early and often
  • Be forthcoming, honest an empathetic
  • NEVER say “no comment” – there’s always something better you can say
  • Always return calls from the media and other key stakeholders promptly. Say what you can, and follow up with more information when you have it
  • Important note: we believe in ethical, honest and transparent communication, and always follow the PRSA Code of Ethics

Bottom line: a crisis is disruptive to business and can have lasting, negative impact on a company’s reputation. Be prepared and consider having an experienced crisis communicator counsel you through the situation. Interested in learning more about our crisis communications services? Contact us today.

Tina Kozak is Franco’s President. She can be reached at kozak@franco.com. You can follower her on Twitter @tinakozak.