Crises cause disruption and confusion. How an organization manages corporate crisis communication can mean the difference between a business moving forward with purpose and clarity or struggling to recover. Organizations that leverage technology and data to assess the marketplace and listen to and engage stakeholders can more effectively ease uncertainty, sustain trust and restore the business.
Many digital tools are available to prepare organizations for future crises and support them when responding to active crises. Technology and data enable movement through Beehive’s crisis management and business continuity roadmap, which includes four phases:
Identify likely crises and prepare a plan for managing them
Activate the crisis management plan with timely, consistent and authentic communication
Take time to understand how expectations have changed and what is needed to move forward
Move the business forward with confidence for sustained growth
Here is a range of technology tools and data platforms to consider during each phase that can help businesses turn insights into action during a crisis.
Technology for corporate crisis management and business continuity
Media monitoring tools, including Cision, Critical Mention and Brandwatch, are critical during each phase of the crisis roadmap. These tools provide data that signal early warning of a crisis. They inform the appropriate response and indicate reputational changes in the marketplace that matter for recovery and restoration. Other tools used during specific phases of the crisis lifecycle can enhance these insights and provide clear guidance for moving forward.
Organizations prepare their corporate crisis management and business continuity plans during the Ready phase. Ensuring that all leaders and crisis response team members have easy access to the plans is critical for a timely and effective response. The plan should be accessible in several formats and locations, including:
- Hard copies at homes or in cars
- On a password-protected jump drive that contains only the crisis plan and extra space for new documents
- On the company server in a clearly labeled location
- On a secure, remote cloud, like Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive
A crisis can strike at any time. Storing the plan in several places ensures employees can access and activate it any time, anywhere. The crisis plan should clearly describe each person’s role and communication responsibilities, which communication channels to use for each audience segment and include communication templates.
The Respond phase begins when a crisis strikes. Quickly managing the many moving pieces and frequently sharing clear, factual information is vital. Technology that helps manage corporate crisis communication in this phase includes:
- Project management tools, like Asana or Trello
- Internal distribution channels, including email tools like MailChimp, instant messaging like Slack or Yammer, the company intranet or employee portal, collaboration platforms like Sharepoint or Microsoft Teams that allow team members to work on documents simultaneously and remote meeting options, including Zoom or Google Jamboard for virtual idea sharing and strategy mapping
- External distribution channels, including an email platform, website, social media channels, wire distribution services like PR Newswire and call centers
Build project management templates before a crisis so teams can quickly activate the plan. Set up communication channels for engaging each audience prior to a crisis to speed the organization’s response and connect with stakeholders in the channels that work best for them. Timely, factual and well-distributed communication stabilizes the organization by inspiring confidence and authentically engaging the people who matter most.
Related Reading: Common Crisis Communication Mistakes to Avoid
Recover and Restore
The Recover and Restore phases focus on improving stability and eventually moving the business forward. Listening to customers and employees is essential during all phases of a crisis, but it is even more important as the company begins to emerge from it. The following tools provide organizations with valuable data on employee and customer sentiment:
- Social media platforms
- Social listening tools, like TalkWalker, Hootsuite and Mention
- Survey platforms for gathering feedback, like SurveyMonkey, Wootric and Qualtrics
Organizations gain a clearer picture of changing marketplace dynamics and stakeholder expectations when they listen. These insights should inform product and service adjustments and sometimes even an organization’s purpose, mission and values. Engaging audiences through various communication channels remains important during these phases. Messages should gradually shift from crisis-focused to future-focused. They should inspire and express gratitude to those who supported the company through the crisis.
Businesses will rarely have as much information as they’d like when responding to a crisis. Technology provides critical insights that, when turned to action, result in powerful communication strategies, authentic connection with stakeholders and a confident path forward. Use technology to listen, understand and respond quickly with transparent information. This enables organizations to manage corporate crises while strengthening trust with customers, employees, partners and communities.
About Ayme Zemke, SVP, Client Service
Ayme Zemke leads client service at Beehive Strategic Communication and is a certified crisis communication leader. She has more than 20 years of strategic communication experience and has helped many organizations prepare for and respond to crisis situations in a way that sustains trust and supports business continuity. Ayme’s ability to understand people’s needs and make meaningful connections helps her move businesses forward with purpose. She often speaks and writes about crisis communication, serves on the Minnesota PRSA Board of Directors and has been recognized by PR News as a Top PR Professional and PR Team Leader.