The current crisis engulfing KFC as it runs out of chicken only serves to highlight that without a well thought out communications plan in place, an organisation can be well and truly caught on the back foot.
It seems that in this unpredictable world it has never been more pertinent to prepare for the unexpected.
It’s true the world has always been an unpredictable place but it seems that the incidence of extreme events is accelerating. This is undoubtedly leaving an impression in the consciousness of leaders of companies up and down the country. The crisis affecting KFC and its new logistics partner DLH brings this into sharp focus, and I have no doubt in the months and years to come it will become a case history on reputation management.
The situation is exacerbated by wall to wall news coverage together with social media, which has given a round-the-clock voice to people everywhere. The result is we can so easily be drawn into a world of half truths and speculation which can ultimately be very destructive. KFC being honest and open about its “teething troubles” has addressed the delivery issues head on leaving no room for gossip or innuendo. Facts have never been more valuable – and fake news more prevalent- so managing an organisation’s communications becomes ever more important.
Lee Peck Media has identified these key measures for anyone considering how to prepare for the unexpected:
- Appoint an experienced crisis management agency so you have an established relationship with experts well ahead of any crisis.
- Together develop an accessible crisis management plan. Nothing too elaborate but focused and effective with clear lines of communication and responsibilities.
- Identify spokespeople who are media trained – again being properly prepared is essential.
- This report should contain a range of standard yet adaptable statements so an immediate response can be issued to the media and stakeholders to enable a more considered statement to be written and signed off.
- An ability to respond 24/7 is vital.
- Identifying the level and depth of the crisis as soon as possible is crucial and sets the tone for the rest of the situation as it unfolds.
- Often less is more but it is sometimes imperative to issue a swift and genuine apology. For a major crisis the business leader should attend the scene.
- A crisis will move through recognisable stages which include: initial response; verifying the facts; releasing information; further investigation; implementation of new measures; wash up.
We all know crisis do happen. But by being properly prepared an organisation can often enhance its reputation by being responsible and proactive from the outset and move forward into a calmer environment relatively unscathed. By being honest and open – with a touch of humour – KFC has undoubtedly taken the sting out of an extremely difficult situation.
If you want a confidential conversation on managing your organisation’s reputation in a crisis please email firstname.lastname@example.org