Be So Authentic As A Business That You Don’t Have To Change During A Crisis

Today is June 12, 2020 and my email box is flooded with questions about branding and communicating during a crisis. As of today we have several to pick from. Organizations worried about saying the wrong thing, about their words being mixed up, about 30 year old rules hunting them, about offending the wrong people, about hushing their employees, about taking a stand versus not taking a stand… The list goes on and on. My response has been pretty consistent, with some minor adjustments based on the organization.

  1. Be Authentic. If you already care about something, demonstrate that you already care. If you didn’t care, but realize you should (not motivated by fear of course), start caring now.
  2. Be Transparent. Hiding what isn’t right or poorly done only leads to more problems. Also be transparent in being solution driven.
  3. Have Tough Conversations. People want to know that you hear and see them and be validated. Be willing to have the conversations that will lead to making a difference.
  4. Be Factual. Don’t make a messy situation worse. Come from a place of facts and truth.
  5. Ask For Help. Its OK to not get it right, its not ok to keep it wrong.
  6. Provide A Safe Place. Be the leader in providing a safe place for others to share and learn and grow. Hiding is not an option.

How To Develop A Crisis Communication Plan

Now more than ever it is very clear that organizations that had a clear crisis communication plan in place have been able to pivot much better than those that did not. The goal of a plan is to know what to do, before you actually have to do it. There are three phases to creating a robust crisis communication plan; Before. During. After.

The Before

The major components to The Before Phase include prep work, knowing your audience, knowing your stakeholders and identifying your crisis management team.

Lets start with the crisis management team.

Please do not place the entire responsibility of communicating during a crisis on the marketing department.

The common members of the crisis team are:

  • Public relations
  • Legal
  • Security
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Human resources

Clearly depending on the structure of your business, you may not have all the people to fill the roles, just make sure you have the perspective from each role. For example, you may not have security, but you can put systems in place that include security or even consult with a security professional. Thinking about security could include crowd management, theft, cyber, property or information.

Next lets look at your stakeholders and your audience.

Your audience are the receivers of the message. Their primary participation is to observe the communication and changes. Your stakeholders on the other hand are the individuals directly impacted by the organizations decisions and actions. Lets say there was a building fire in the middle of the night. No one was injured, however officially when you announce next steps, the stakeholders are your employees, production and service partners and the audience is the general public.

Finally your Prep Work

Once you have your team and you know who you are speaking to and what you will be talking about. Its time to do the prep work. The prep work includes workflows, policies, procedures and templates.

Your templates should include:

  • Accidents that injure employees or others
  • Property damage to company facilities
  • Liability associated injury to or damage sustained by others
  • Production or service interruptions
  • Environmental or natural disasters
  • Product or service quality issues
  • Hyper specific industry issues (child abuse at a school)

Your workflows should include:

  • Communication approval hierarchy
  • Spokesperson organizational chart
  • Predetermined communication channels (Facebook, Mass Texts, Press)

The During

During the crisis it is critical to follow three primary guidelines. Be quick. Be accurate. Be consistent. It is far better to over communicate less information accurately than it is to under communicate false information.

Be Quick

Waiting to respond allows space and time for rumors, panic and conspiracy. The sooner you respond, the sooner you can dispel the negativity and the less you will have to do to repair for your reputation. An early response is typically within the hour of the crisis awareness. Owning your own communication platforms will prove to be vital as you can communicate without the discrepancy of the media creating their own version. A quick response shows your organizations position and control of the crisis.

Be Accurate

Identify your primary spokesperson. This person should have some experience. If not there should be training provided prior to the crisis. Posting on social media or sending a newsletter are completely different from standing in front of a room full of reporters answering questions about a crisis. Report from facts only. Don’t make assumptions while reporting. It may seem frustrating, however it is better to be accurate than take back something you said in error.

Be Consistent

Confirm that your message is the same across all platforms. If you typically share from an educational position, continue to report out that way. Keep you brand in place and remember once you send it out, its out there forever. Depending on the type of crisis, establish a communication cadence. Emails every Monday, social media post every day at 11 am, employee mass text every Friday. Think about the weather. Most stations report the weather a certain time on the hour. Building your communication around a cadence will help you build trust with your audience and stakeholders.

The After

After a crisis the focus is on repairing anything the crisis destroyed, including apologizing, corrective actions, compensation, and brand reputation.

Your Apology

A true apology does not include the word “but”. “But” automatically cancels out an apology, and nearly always introduces a criticism or excuse. A true apology keeps the focus on your actions—and not on the other person’s response. A true apology needs to be backed by corrective action. A true apology requires that you do your best to avoid a repeat performance.

Corrective Action

Corrective action is not meant to be a knee jerk response to a crisis. Corrective action requires a thoughtful response. It needs to make sense for the organization on all operational, financial and sustainability levels. The last thing you want to do is resolve one issue and create another. Yes, lowering a price of a product or service sounds appealing, but what are the ripple affects?

Compensation

Although this seems like a no-brainer depending on the crisis, consider the risk of appearing heartless or providing hush money. If compensation is the best response, be sure that it complements the crisis. Compensation can also come in the form of payroll or additional benefits.

Brand Reputation

Resorting your brand’s reputation actually happens during and after the crisis. Your reputation can be restored using various strategies such as Defeasibility, which is the lack of information about events leading to the crisis situation. Simply put, you didn’t know. You announce what measures you will put in place so there isn’t any additional miscommunication or lack of communication moving forward. You continue to communicate thr status of the newly placed policies and be transparent. Don’t run or hide or even assume that people forgot. Stick to you communication plan.

Here is a quick checklist of everything mentioned above:

  • Identify your crisis team members
  • Identify your stakeholders
  • Identify your audience
  • Create your prep work templates
    • Accidents that injure employees or others
    • Property damage to company facilities
    • Liability associated injury to or damage sustained by others
    • Production or service interruptions
    • Environmental or natural disasters
    • Product or service quality issues
    • Hyper specific industry issues (child abuse at a school)
  • Create communication workflows
    • Communication approval hierarchy
    • Spokesperson organizational chart
    • Predetermined communication channels (Facebook, Mass Texts, Press)
  • Be quick
  • Be accurate
  • Be consistent
  • Craft your apology
  • Create your corrective action plan
  • Understand your compensation options
  • Have multiple brand reputation repair strategies in place

Spring Business Building Series: Update Your Business Pitch

Update Your Business Pitch

This one is a super easy task. Long gone are the robot-like commercial introductions about you, your role or your business.

Repeat after me, I am human. Guess what, the other business owners, they are human too! *Mic Drop*

Fill in the blanks:

My name is ________________

I help ____________ with ________________.

My name is Nisi and I help entrepreneurs simplify their social media goals.

My name is Karen and I help non profits write grants.

My name is Eric and I help young athletes get ready for college.

My name is Juanita and I help new veterans transition out of active duty.

Here is the truth, we are all here to solve problems. Some people have the problem that you are trying to solve, some don’t.

5 STEPS TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS IN THE SPRING SO YOU ARE BUSY ALL SUMMER

For so many businesses, the summer months are super slow.

Traditionally we have been trained to build our funnels based on our personal calendars. For example, everyone is pretty busy during the holidays. So as business owners we have trained our work calendars to get as much done as possible before Thanksgiving and not to expect much from anyone until after January. The problem with this concept is that it put you behind the curve and you use so much fuel getting back on track that by May you are super tired and ready for Summer. Starting the entire process all over again.

Follow these 5 steps to secure a robust business during the Summer!

  1. Take a Step Back. Redefine your goals to get you through the end of the year. You may have goals, but this time add your personal calendar. For example, I travel with my family for most of the month of July. So I know its not the best time to onboard a new client. I use July to have any corporate retreats and strategic planning sessions. I redefine company goals and confirm the systems I have in place are solid. This helps with smooth transitions as I accept new clients or current client projects.
  2. Get Trained. Sometimes the best ideas come from the opportunity to get better in your craft. Take any training that would help you do your job better, help you reset your mindset, or give you certifications your clients would appreciate.
  3. Give Back. Sometimes stepping away from what we need and focusing on what others need is a great way to put things into perspective.  I am a firm believer that the way and amount you give will be given unto you.
  4. Network On Purpose. Pick a 60-day window for intentional networking. Grab your calendar, check out local networking events and make a plan to attend. I would even try some outside of your zip code. Have a game plan when you are ready to network. Know what your needs are, identify your dream connections and be ready for what you can do to help others.
  5. Build Your Digital Presence. We all know social media is a must if you are a business owner looking for more clients or brand awareness. Just remember that your entire digital presence is required to attend in order for you to reach any of your marketing goals. Create a system to build a robust digital presence. My favorite system kinda goes like this.
    1. Blog Post
    2. Drip Email Campaign
    3. Social Media Ads
    4. Social Media Engagement
    5. Social Media Posts

There a ton of ways to stay busy but remember that you want to be productive, not just busy.

BONUS TIP! Get to the root cause of why the summer is a slow month for your business. Is it the product you offer? Just because you sell coats doesn’t mean business has to be slow. Look for international partners, look for influencers that are well organized. They would love to have a heads up on a winter trend. Use this time to redo your marketing photos. Troubleshooting is always done best when you can remove emotions and take a look without being…well…in your feelings.

If you need a little bit of help filling your Spring Funnel to Build Your Summer Business, we have a Spring Special just for you.

BLOG + DRIP EMAIL CAMPAIGN +

30 DAYS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT PACKAGE ONLY

$675

If you would like to receive our extended list of tips on growing your business during the typical slow season, fill out the contact form below.

How To Create a Brand Identity System

For most solo and micro business owners that have had to create a brand from scratch, the idea itself is overwhelming. Often times just selecting the perfect business cards is enough to put everything on hold because the obsession of getting it right takes over.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when creating your Brand Identity System:

  1. Am I being visually consistent? Can someone look at your website, social media or printed material and easily determine that they all belong to the same family? To check this for yourself, visit each platform, take a photo with your phone and then group them in a photo collage. Don’t cheat, take the first image from each digital platform and a snapshot of the last printed piece of material you gave away.  Do they all belong together? Would a stranger to your brand be able to tell you if they belonged together?
  2. Is your brand character predictable? When you send an email, does the recipient have an expectation of what they are about to receive before they open it? In our microwave society, some businesses try to be daring and surprising and change things up to warrant extra attention. This is actually not always a good idea. Have you ever gone into your favorite restaurant and they changed the menu? What about when the label changes on your favorite jar of pasta sauce? How did it make you feel? People want to know that they can depend on your brand character.
  3. Is your brand vision crystal clear? With a few scrolls of the thumb or a couple of clicks of the mouse, will potential clients know what you do, who you do it for, how you do it and why your way is unique. Would your current client be able to easily explain to a potential client what you do? How would your current clients describe what makes you unique? Do your current clients know where you want to take your business in the next 5 years? Your brand vision should be common knowledge to your internal and external constituents.
  4. What is your brand value proposition? What are you selling and how will your product or service solve the clients problem or improve their situation? What are your unique benefits? What makes what you do so special? How can you share this? Who do you share this with?
  5. Is your mission palpable? Can others feel your brand mission? Does your brand have a mission so strong and so undeniable that when your brand is seen or heard, it inspires others. Are you creating a culture of brand lovers? Are you providing a place and a purpose for your clients within your brand?

 

If you are having trouble with creating any of the above mentioned, we can help.

There are three ways to start you on your journey. 1. You can follow this blog and download any of the free printable guides. 2. You can sign up for sessions. There is nothing wrong with learning what to do. 3. We can partner together and take your brand to the next best level.

For more information about creating a brand identity system for your business, you can reach us by email at SOMEDIGITALBLOOM@gmail.com or by phone at 210-201-6474

Schedule a discovery call today! Let’s get things moving along!

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