All businesses have to be concerned about reputation; this is even more important in the age of the internet. Social media, online reviews, the transformation of the news business, and other revolutions in how your audience hears about your MSP business and its performance have also transformed reputation management and crisis communication. Though the tools and complexity of dealing with the public outfall from business problems have changed, the principles remain the same.
Speed: Stay Ahead of the Crisis
Nothing is more important in crisis management than speed. The speed at which you spot potential problems and the speed with which you respond largely determine the success of your crisis communication efforts.
This means you need resources in place dedicated to monitoring for signs of possible problems. If they’re not real problems, you can nip them in the bud before they become damaging rumors or even news stories founded on poor sourcing. If the early signs are just the heads-up of a potential disaster in the offing, they give you the maximum opportunity to roll out a comprehensive PR strategy.
Setup teams and tools tasked with watching out for threads or even single posts on social media that mention your business. As part of your PR and support efforts, you should already be responding to some of these. Extend the remit of these teams to ensure potential crises are flagged up early. The internet age means sophisticated media-monitoring tools can provide automated warning of developing narratives.
Preparation and Anticipation
Speed is nothing if you’re not prepared. Anticipate possible crises. Prepare responses. Put strategies in place that can automatically be triggered if your MSP business is confronted with the anticipated scenarios. Create a crisis communication manual. Hard copies should fall readily to hand on the desks of your crisis management team members. Review the manual and update it regularly. Test your team’s responses by holding roleplay events. Modify and train as needed until you have a well-oiled PR machine that can handle anything when the pressure will be greatest.
When a crisis hits, don’t try to hide behind a screen of vagueness and non-responsiveness. Establish the facts quickly. Provide well-founded answers to the public with clear unarguable facts that maximize clarity and leave minimal room for rumors to swirl or supposition to build. Above all else, be honest. Honest mistakes may be forgiven. Lies and dishonesty will always be outed and will only cause greater long-term harm.
Take Charge of the Problem and the Solution
Don’t let a crisis reign; take charge of the problem (or appearance of a problem) at the heart of the crisis. Ultimately, the head of your MSP business is responsible for every area of operations. A sincere apology from the leader of the organization, supported by clear actions and a solution that demonstrates the determination to prevent the same thing happening again, can do wonders for your reputation.