Traditionally, public relations media is something that every business owner will seek. It’s used to raise awareness of your business in the media and approval of third parties, through your good customer service, excellent products or community donations for your brand or significant insights.
Crisis communications turns everything upside down, since the business owner is then challenged to deal with negative media. From the moment that “bad press” hits the news – in print, TV, online or social media or word of mouth – you must focus on diminishing damage to your company’s reputation by third party sources. It’s the opposite of a referral or testimonial.
Some examples may be a bad restaurant review, health department closure, murder at your restaurant, employee walkout, or even unappealing behavior by the owner such as sexual harassment or arrest.
If something like this should happen to your restaurant, you must act quickly. It will not just go away; it will resonate with your existing and future customers.
Here are three key actions to perform to get your business back on track.
Take ownership of the situation. Designate a spokesperson, someone who will be the calm and actionable face of the company. When you are forthcoming about either what you did or what you’re going to do to prevent the problem from happening again, the public is less liable to be angry or disgusted and give you a “second chance.” An apology goes a long way.
Act immediately and issue a statement as stated above. The sooner you react and respond, the faster you deny this crisis the chance to move out of control. This will assist in making this bad event news flash into yesterday’s news.
State your knowledge of the matter and correct information. Be exact in your statement about what happened, and state your actionable solution, step by step. For example, “We have identified the problem ABC, and are now working in XYZ manner to immediately rectify the issue. We appreciate your patience and continued patronage.” In a crisis, people fill in stories with their own suspicions and hearsay. Take away that conjecture with facts and swift actions, and then there is no place for the rumors to go.
If you are not sure about what to do, contact a public relations or corporate communications specialist (such as myself). They will advise you properly and guide you to a swift resolution. The cost is very minimal compared to the business you will lose and may never recoup.