It goes without saying that a robust pr crisis communications and management plan should be an integral part of any company.
The construction industry is by its very nature a hazardous business, with exceptional amounts of time and resource invested into health and safety compliance and risk management.
Unfortunately, no matter how safe and prepared you are, at time to time things can go wrong – from minor incidents to major catastrophes.
Consider these scenarios: being served an HSE enforcement notice, making staff redundancies or a minor site flood; to on-site fires, accidents or a fatality.
Whatever the size of your construction company, it’s vital to prepare for what could go wrong and how to handle a situation effectively if a crisis scenario does occur.
This is an age where – more than ever – reputation is everything. Put one foot wrong and there is likely to be someone ready to capture it on their smartphone and upload to social media, or send directly to a local newspaper.
A crisis communications plan can play an invaluable role in helping you to manage any potential scenario that could get out of hand with a proactive response and negatively affect your business.
Working with a specialist PR firm to devise best practice, strategic processes and responses can ensure that the crisis is managed in a way that limits any long-term damage to your company.
Here are three things to consider before a crisis and what to do in the unfortunate event one does take place:
1. Crisis managers: assemble
Engage a specialist PR agency that knows the media landscape, can offer effective media training, manage journalist expectations and establish who should be available to comment from the outset.
It’s imperative to determine who your spokespeople are. A CEO will be expected to make comment on major crises, whereas other directors or managers might be required to respond on matters related to their specific areas of the business.
The key is preparation – and that necessitates media training. Speaking to the media can be daunting and without the know-how, an untrained spokesperson could do more damage to your reputation.
2. Perfect your procedures
When devising a crisis comms procedure, first establish a list of what to do and who should do it. This should cover how to establish the facts and which communications channels to use.
Everyone should know what to do and who to contact if something happens, especially after hours: a crisis won’t care that you’re fast asleep.
Set up dedicated crisis contacts, including an out-of-hours number for media enquiries – the last thing you want is a story to break without comment because the media was unable to reach the relevant spokesperson.
What’s more, a crisis WhatsApp group is an efficient way to share information instantaneously with stakeholders, spokespeople and your communications team.
Getting your first response right is essential and can be the difference between taking control of the crisis or it running away from you.
3. Eyes and ears open
Once you’ve engaged all stakeholders and instructed your crisis communications support to liaise with the media, it’s time to take stock.
Scan the media landscape and your online spaces, especially social media where news spreads like wildfire. Media monitoring and social media listening tools can help you to track all company mentions, often in real time.
This will put you one step ahead, enabling you to respond swiftly to an ongoing crisis and evaluate the success of your approach.