Taking Advantage of Bad News Due to a Crisis

Every company has experienced a crisis. Unfortunately, not every company applies to well-designed crisis management. As a crisis is occurring, bad news will circulate faster because it is seen as very ‘good news’ to talk about. The spreading of bad news can also negatively impact business operations.

The good news for you, is that these problems are preventable, as long as your company applies correct, responsive crisis management. Moreover, the bad news circulating around can be utilized for the benefits of your company.

This topic was presented by Dr. Ricardo Indra, M.Si., CPR, General Manager of the Program Management Office (Transformation) – Communication and Supporting PT Telkomsel, in a webinar held to celebrate the opening of the Master/S2 MM Program at BINUS @Bekasi.

Not all crises are uncontrollable

To commemorate the opening of MM in Business Management and Master of Communication Studies study programs at BINUS @Bekasi, a webinar titled ‘Seeking Opportunities from Setbacks, Bad News is Good News’ was held on April 25, 2020, with Dr. Ricardo Indra (Indra) as the guest speaker. He has vast knowledge and 25 years of experience in the management, communication, and journalism industries.

He opened the webinar by stating that bad news spreads faster during a crisis. Indra, who completed his doctoral study in Communication Studies at Universitas Indonesia, also emphasized that bad news is not something to be worried about if the company knows how to handle it.

The majority of sources that create a crisis are uncontrollable, making it very difficult to handle it. “Uncontrollable crises are mainly more complex than what a company can handle,” said Indra.

The COVID-19 pandemic that is happening currently is one of a few uncontrollable crises. Other examples are changes in politics and government, global issues, and technological advancement.

Furthermore, there are some controllable crises which allow a company to prepare and anticipate. Some of these are business competitors, changes in consumer’s behavior, supplies, and business management.

The importance of mapping crisis levels for a company

In whichever form, a crisis will surely bring additional impacts to a company, be it reputation, stakeholders, or potential loss. However, these impacts have several different levels, ranging from micro, minor, medium, major, and fatal. To minimize the impacts, a company must create a mapping of crisis level; how far has it affected your company?

With mapping, the company can immediately take action to handle the crisis, eventually preventing the impacts from worsening or increasing in level. Other than that, fast action shows that the company is being transparent.

Indra explained that there are four phases in crisis management. The first phase: prodrome, the crisis recently appears and the business management still runs smoothly. Second phase: acute, crisis spreads and the impacts start to emerge. Third phase: chronic, focusing on finding solutions to resolve the crisis. Fourth phase: resolution, the company stays alert to prevent the same crisis from happening again.

Choose a well-communicating spokesperson

When a crisis occurs, the media will instantly cover the news about your company. Although crisis management is the work of many people from different levels within the company, it is important to appoint one spokesperson as a representative.

The spokesperson can be defined as someone who represents a company. Indra also stated that, “a company’s ability in crisis management is solely judged by the communication skill of the appointed spokesperson.”

It is not just communication skills in news conferences or directly reporting to the live mainstream media, but also communication skills in digital persona. As we know, we can access news faster than before through online media.

For a spokesperson to be able to deliver accurate and transparent statements, you need to prepare a crisis mapping. Conduct a special team to identify the public’s needs and compile the findings into a single briefing document. This document is the guideline for your spokesperson, so he/she can communicate in a structured manner and prevent any possible miscommunication.

Even though it is inevitable, a crisis should not be ignored. Your company must regroup and apply good crisis management, from the operational, corporate communication, to top management within the company. The key is to always be responsive, do not stay silent or avoid the crisis, which will tarnish your company’s image.