Crisis Communication

Turning Tragedy into Triumph – Crisis Communication Tips From Top Franchise Executives

You can mitigate risk in today’s multimedia marketplace.

In February I attended the International Franchise Association’s annual convention. While there I had an opportunity to listen to a panel discussion featuring Saundra Kitchen (owner of Mr. Rooter of Sonoma County CA), Debra Shwetz (Co-Founder of Nothing Bundt Franchising Inc.) and one of their franchisees Mara Fortin along with Lorne Fisher CEO of Fish Consulting and Robin Blanton, Senior Director of Marketing Services at McAlister’s Corporation.

As part of their discussion they shared suggestions and tips that any entrepreneur can implement to mitigate risk when crisis happens.

Every organization is vulnerable to crises and franchise brands are perhaps the best prepared for unexpected attacks.

Whether it’s a disgruntled employee getting on social media, hoaxes or honest to goodness mishaps, every entrepreneur can learn from how franchise brands managers prepare for crisis communications.

With social media and smartphones enabling every customer to become a photo journalist, the days of playing ostrich are gone.

Top 10 Myths of Crisis Communication

  1. Bury your head in the sand – if you ignore the problem the issue will spiral out of control.
  2. Pretend it’s not really that bad – need to take all issues seriously.
  3. It’s not just a PR issue – the entire company needs to be a part of the response – internally and externally.
  4. Tell the whole story – sharing half of the details will only encourage the media to dig deeper.
  5. Lie – enough said. Honesty matters.
  6. Wait until you have all of the details – important to share what you know when you know it.
  7. Pointing fingers – important to focus on solving the problem vs. assigning blame.
  8. Profusely apologize – show compassion, apologize if appropriate and then show how you are fixing the issue.
  9. Panic – don’t let the incident make your team panic. Follow your plan and keep your cool.
  10. Blame the media – reporters are merely reporting on what they hear or uncover. Use them and don’t fight them.

How to be prepared in the future you can’t see?

  1. Always have a written crisis communication plan
  2. Communication to all parties which includes:
    • Lead person for internal and external communication
    • Leadership team (s)
    • Company representative(s)
    • Vendor partners
    • Don’t forget receptionist, local store teams, social media manager

Who you put in front of the media in a crisis?

Consider the following:

Special thanks to Saundra Kitchen (owner of Mr. Rooter of Sonoma County CA), Debra Shwetz (Co-Founder of Nothing Bundt Franchising Inc.) and one of their franchisees Mara Fortin along with Lorne Fisher CEO of Fish Consulting and Robin Blanton, Senior Director of Marketing Services at McAlister’s Corporation and the International Franchise Association’s for sharing their best practices with StartupNation.

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