It’s been a tough year peppered with life-and-death emergencies that have changed the realities of day-to-day living. A raging pandemic, skyrocketing unemployment and civil unrest have roiled society with discord.
The World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic in March 2020 and the divide between the rich and poor became even more pronounced. All combined, it has been a recipe for disaster.
It’s no wonder the need for crisis communications is on the rise. The pandemic restrictions, a staggering death toll and subsequent vaccine controversy have produced a population that reacts quickly to the slightest provocation.
Add in the power of social media and it is clear why the need for crisis PR experts continues to grow. What’s more, people who are looking to air their beefs can do it online with lightning speed and cause maximum damage in a minimum amount of time.
Here are five reasons the need for crisis communications continues to grow:
1. The Covid-19 pandemic created global uncertainty and distress as it disrupted communications among individuals, families and business organizations everywhere. Business leaders have struggled to communicate with displaced employees, displaced employees have struggled to manage children who were displaced by schools and displaced children have struggled with virtual learning.
Rumors and uncertainty about how the virus spread, how it should be treated, where to get tested and whether to get vaccinated further fueled feelings of uncertainty and panic.
As a result, stakeholders are turning to crisis communications experts to help cope with emotional disruption, disenfranchised workers and the need to craft messaging that clarifies, unifies and supports all parties in times of extreme uncertainty.
2. Unemployment continues to be a negative side effect of the coronavirus pandemic with far-reaching consequences sparking a variety of crises. In April 2020, the unemployment rate reached a landmark high of 14.8%, the steepest rate recorded since 1948, when data collection was initiated.
People who are frustrated and out of work with time on their hands can wreak havoc by taking to social media. Crisis management experts may have to tamp down online fires, soothe nerves and come up with alternative solutions. Statistics show that the frequency with which businesses need to manage crises is on the upswing. Effective coordination and communication are essential during a crisis and likely to require the help of experts.
3. Anger is a key reason the need for crisis communications is rising. With so much conflict and uncertainty brewing, many people err on the side of outrage. In a world characterized by extreme polarization, rumors and spin, nothing can be left to chance because problems can morph out of control fast.
Quarantines, lockdowns and the horror of the pandemic death toll, combined with ongoing disagreements over mask-wearing and other issues, are adding to the powder keg atmosphere.
Crisis communications experts have the skills and expertise to steer the conversation in a more neutral direction. People are also angry over lost jobs, partisan politics and race relations. Many could benefit from the calming expertise of crisis PR pros to guide them.
4. Social media is the great igniter when it comes to crises, and with so many people at home due to the pandemic and job loss, the internet has become ground zero for conflicts. It is a big reason for the uptick in the demand for crisis PR.
Companies must keep close tabs on their social media accounts so they can monitor posts, online reviews and commentary in order to nip any online attacks in the bud.
Crisis communications consultants can monitor social media channels using social listening software for potential problems and respond promptly if something negative crops up. Speed is of the essence when it comes to addressing negative posts on social media.
Crisis PR experts can neutralize flashpoints and provide alternative narratives to ease conflicts and encourage positive engagement. Most crisis management professionals will help businesses create social media policies that include content development and ongoing strategy.
5. Online reputation repair has become a necessity in this age of social media. Businesses that are targeted in online attacks cannot afford to allow their reputations to become tarnished.
The demand for crisis PR experts who specialize in social media parallels the increase in social media usage. Crisis PR professionals can take control of unfavorable narratives and tweak conversations so that companies don’t lose future business or market value. A company with a poor online reputation has a lot to lose, including its ability to attract quality employees or grow its customer base.
Savvy businesses are hiring crisis PR experts before they have a problem. Doing so ensures that these PR experts can head off anything damaging before it becomes problematic. After all, no one wants negative search results to have a chilling effect on their business.
Results from PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021 underscore precisely why crisis planning and having a crisis communications plan in place are necessary.
According to the survey of 2,814 global business leaders, just 39% of U.S. respondents had a crisis management plan in place that they found “very relevant” during the pandemic. What’s more, nearly 20% of respondents had to assemble completely new crisis response plans as the pandemic took hold.
Survey results also showed that approximately 80% of respondents experienced a secondary crisis made worse by the pandemic. The study concluded that a dedicated crisis response team with a flexible crisis response plan to address a range of changing issues is essential for organizations of all sizes.
Crisis planning and crisis PR have become essential for businesses that want to keep their reputations intact and move forward steadily despite an unpredictable world.
For more info, visit Forbes
Our work is always to Earn Trust, Build Reputation, Widen Influence to grow your brand and business.