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PressCode’s Anton Davidenko says small firms must have crisis management strategies

27th March 2013

Smaller businesses may think they are safe from the reputational management issues that bigger companies need to be aware of – but in reality, with social media making the business world far more transparent, no company can afford to think they would be immune to a crisis.

So what can smaller businesses do to preserve their good names if the worst occurs? Here are five tips:

1. The biggest advantage SMEs have is that they are highly flexible in comparison with bigger companies. Staying flexible is key to handling a crisis, and thinking quickly is a key part of this – a quick reaction may save you time, stress and money. If a negative email or tweet via Twitter has come to your attention, answer it as soon as you can.

2. Avoid the urge to bury your head in the sand. If you think a small complaint or a negative reaction means nothing to your business, think again. Even a small failure can cause an earthquake in news terms. Deal with the issue as soon as you can, and if something happens via a social network such as Twitter, take it offline to deal with it by phone or email as soon as possible.

3. Deliver a clear plan to your audience – whether that’s in answer to a single complaint or a response via social media – on how you’ve solved the problem, and how you’re going to avoid it happening again. You could also consider writing something about this on your blog, if you have one, and stress how well you’ve handled the particular problem. It’s a friendly version of the bigger company’s formal statement explaining what’s happened. If you’ve received negative coverage in the press, such an approach would be making the most of an opportunity to have your say.

4. Make sure everyone in your company is aware of the problem and how it’s being handled. This will help to maintain a united front in the face

5. Keep an eye on your brand’s presence in social media to avoid crises happening in the first place, and without your knowledge. In today’s world, where social media is available to your customers on a myriad of devices and used by so many people worldwide, every company should keep a close eye on every company mention that appears online. You can do this on Twitter by signing up to tools such as Hootsuite, or by signing up to Google alerts to ensure you’re notified by email each time your company is mentioned online.

Anton Davidenko is managing director at PressCode PR

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