Crisis? There is no universal recipe. The main thing is not to waste resources and time!

On February 5th 2019, members of the St. Petersburg International Business Association lined up together the algorithm of the company’s actions in difficult situations at the “Anti-crisis communications” workshop.

Presenting the topic of the workshop, Veronika Voinovian, advisor to Managing Partner of Borenius, confirmed the general opinion that crises will always occur, no matter we live in the digital world or not. That is why the topic of anti-crisis communications does not lose its relevance.

Workshop was held by Evgenia Falkova, Corporate Affairs Director in West Region, Danone. Evgenia is well known to SPIBA members: during her presentations she always attracts sincerity and willingness to share her company’s great experience. However, this time she began the story with sensational examples of crisis situations that leading international companies face.

The conclusions made on the basis of world cases are disappointing: the news has no boundaries, and rumors spread faster; likes and posts turn out to be more important for society than truth. In pursuit of “hot” facts, journalists do not check the information. In extreme cases, the media may apologize post factum that it is easier to do than to lose exclusive material.

We have to admit that the crisis is an inevitable fact for any company, and it is impossible to fully protect oneself from it. Crisis situations are unpredictable and fleeting, and control on them is very limited.

Evgenia Falkova offered the audience a typology of crises and incidents (pre-crisis situations), developed at Danone. To a large extent, crisis situations are determined by the degree of damage to business, people and the environment. Despite the fact that every crisis is unique, every crisis situation requires its own management decisions, the company has general rules applicable in any case. Basically, they are perceived simply as standard actions performed at the level of common sense. But in conditions of extremely limited time, it is important that all employees involved know about them and adhere to established rules.

“Don’t waste resources and time in a crisis situation!” – calls Evgenia. She told about the regular steps taken to build communications in a crisis situation at Danone. It is important that in addition to the required actions, there are those who are never required, which allows you to follow the rules of business ethics and preserve the reputation of the company. Among other actions, no one should panic, condemn others, make public assumptions, speak if there are no facts.

Evgenia Falkova is convinced that the interaction person-to-person is the most valuable interaction in resolving a crisis situation. That is why it is important that this is done, first of all, by a communications specialist.

The second part of the meeting was devoted to the practice. Participants divided into two teams received assignments to find solutions in a crisis situation. Evgenia offered real examples by changing the names and titles. The conditions, in which imaginary organizations fell, were rapidly changing: new posts appeared in social networks, shocking headlines in the media, and more frequent visits by supervisory authorities. In few minutes, the teams had to compile a list of necessary actions that were presented to the entire audience.

Together with Evgenia Falkova the participants analyzed every situation and shared their own experience in crisis management. According to the tradition established in SPIBA, representatives of the business community exchanged questions and answers, left feedback about the event and expressed wishes on topics for future meetings.

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