17 Mar Prepare The PR Crisis In Hoax Era
Airbags, automatically expand when a hard crash occurs. Likewise the company, needs to prepare a PR crisis before the incident. But in the last few weeks we have heard noise in the mass media and social media about the insurance industry. The noise ended with a PR crisis faced by one of the multinational insurance companies in Indonesia, precisely because they did not have protection, against the PR crisis.
So, not only customers need to be protected by insurance, insurance companies also seem to need to protect themselves with issue management and handling the PR crisis. Who would have thought, borrowing the opinion of one of the insurance experts, who said it while shaking, only this time an insurance policy dispute could reach the criminal sphere by the police, using consumer protection offenses.
Then, once entering the criminal sphere, there is no response, either a standby statement or a narrative counter from the insurance company. As a result, the PR crisis is getting bigger. Trial by the press in mass media and trial by the public in social media are unstoppable. Some of my colleagues who work at the insurance company panicked. They are scared to death, if the case demands Rp. 16 million which continues to become Rp. These 2 billion will continue to be what Manulife experienced a few years ago. This large multinational insurance company is bankrupt by two trivial debtors. At that time, the Indonesian bankruptcy law made it possible to act. My friends are aware, financial services is a business of trust. Where public trust is everything. Maintaining public trust is not easy if the company experiences a PR crisis. Even a company the size of BCA had been hit by a crisis of confidence and had experienced a rush, massive withdrawals of customers’ funds, queuing up at ATMs.
The current conditions in the era of digital information, maintaining credibility is even more difficult. With the ease of parties creating hoaxes, the distribution of gossip and lots of news without fact-checking on whatssap channels, the potential for attacks to undermine public trust and company reputation is even higher. It’s only a matter of minutes or hours, a post on social media or a chain message on whatsapp can become online news, and then print or TV news. If the information does not get an appropriate response or counter narrative response, without having to go bankrupt by a legal institution, the company has already been bankrupt automatically by its destroyed credibility.
This is a good example of handling a PR crisis. It is still fresh in our memories when Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla reportedly suffered a stroke and was immediately taken by plane to Singapore to undergo treatment. The news of this hoax is accompanied by convincing photographs. Only in less than 12 hours, whatsapp chain messages and the social media crowd became large, some online media began to preach, plus several informants and trusted figures participated in spreading. Fortunately, the special staff team for the vice president moved quickly. Soon the news was denied officially, also with the same channel, whatssapp, complete with the latest photos of his activities that are in good condition. The news did not get bigger and then buried. Not to influence the movement of the JCI and maintained public confidence. The Vice President’s Team indeed has operating standards and has been trained in dealing with various media crisis conditions. But facing a situation when the PR crisis has broken out is certainly more difficult than preventing it. If it can’t be prevented, at least know a potential crisis before it happens. Therefore, many companies regularly prepare themselves to face the PR crisis that is not necessarily the case. But many are also unconscious or indeed underestimate and ignore this preparation. They are too confident.
Preparation for the PR crisis is like a peaceful country but still has armies ready for war if at any time they are attacked. Not just someone who carries umbrellas everywhere despite the bright daylight, or a car equipped with airbags, although often only go slowly. When bad conditions happen, the impact can be minimized.
Here are four things that can be done, and should be done, before a crisis of public confidence strikes you in the media: First, ABC Management of Emergency Communications
Public relations practitioners should always remember this step, which is recommended by the Forbes Communication Council, consisting of selected communications practitioners and senior PR. (A) ssemble A Team, (B) uild a Plan. (C) reate a Toolkit.
- ssemble A Team. Form a special team that is dedicated and can act immediately when a crisis strikes.
- (B) uild a Plan. Begin to make plans, identify any potential that can attack an organization, what issues must be considered, what developments must be monitored.
- (C) reate a Toolkit. Set guidelines, which people must do when a crisis comes. After all three are there, do a periodic simulation exercise. Companies often do simulation exercises for handling a PR crisis once a year over a scenario, to prepare their team. If you want it easier, just contact the PR Agency to take care of everything, so the team is more focused on training. Second, Identify and Know All Stakeholders
Jonathan Bernstein in Crisis Communication Management reminds to always pay attention to who are the stakeholders of your organization, who are your friends and who are your opponents.
Companies that are ready usually have a list of internal and external stakeholders that they always maintain on a regular basis. For example, A figure, first priority. So that must be found at least two or three times a year. Etc. So when a crisis of trust occurs, you have a list of people who can defend, dismiss allegations. The author has met, one of the big companies that when the crisis hit, there is not a single public figure who wants to approach or even defend. Pity. Third, prepare the best spokesperson
Always prepare your best spokesperson to be ready in times of crisis. Don’t make the crisis even bigger because of unpreparedness.
In addition to media training, regular simulation exercises and standby statement are very important. If the spokesperson is an Expatriate, they must understand the context of the media in Indonesia which is often different from the situation in other countries. Misunderstanding of local media like this sometimes magnifies the crisis. It is very important to prepare top foreign executives in the company to talk with the media in Indonesia. Fourth, Monitor and monitor. Continue to routinely monitor every day the movement of issues in mass media and social media. Some companies that have faced crises and vulnerable industries such as the natural resources sector monitor all news. Don’t underestimate this activity.
We can get a warning before something gets bigger from this activity. Better to put out the fire when the fire is still small right?
A crisis may still befall, but it is better to deal with at least weapons preparation, rather than none at all. After all, great companies are capable of going through crises, whatever they are, and remain strong despite the crisis. Always remember the Latin adage, si vis pacem, para bellum, if you want peace, prepare for war.