On episode 10 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia welcomed Lisa Nickerson, CEO and founder of Nickerson People Relations and Nickerson Real Estate Partners, to talk about the importance of having a good crisis management plan in place, and what companies and individuals can do to better manage a crisis.
According to Nickerson, one of the biggest misconceptions is what really defines a crisis. She says 96% of what she and the professionals at her firm manage are not catastrophes, but things that can still affect a company’s brand.
Non-catastrophe crises can include things like an employee being terminated or leaving, an employee being arrested, a member of the firm having a public altercation with a spouse or ex-spouse, a family member of an executive getting into trouble and making the news, or a company’s product failing – all things that can damage the reputation of the company, Nickerson says.
She emphasizes the importance of putting a crisis management plan in place before a crisis happens. This way, the company or individual knows exactly what the course of action will be, should something arise. Elements of a plan would include identifying who the authorities are within a company and who the first person to contact in a crisis would be. This, Nickerson says, “gives you so much more opportunity to manage the situation in a calm, controlled, accurate way.”
Another major advantage of having a plan in place ahead of time and/or working with a PR firm is that it gives a company or individual time to be able to control what they put out as a message during a crisis. Otherwise, the crucial moments after a crisis occurs are spent trying to figure out what the plan will be, rather than properly managing or de-escalating the event with the media.
She says it is also good to put out good press, such as the company or individual’s involvement in charities and events, before a crisis occurs. Then, she adds, the public will not just be reading the one piece of bad press related to a negative event.
Nickerson also says that social media has made crisis management even more important. “You’re no longer in control of all of the information that gets out there. When anybody can say anything they want about you on social media, you have to respond to that or offset it. You can connect with them and respond to them, escalate their concerns and issues, and help alleviate their fears, anxieties, and anger.”
Nickerson says one of the reasons that companies or individuals often don’t have a crisis management plan is because “people are uncomfortable talking about uncomfortable subjects. People don’t want to believe that something could happen in their building, but they do happen and they could, and it’s a good idea to be ahead of it.”