Crisis Management 101

Last week Chelsea addressed why having a plan is so important and defined what actually constitutes a crisis. This week we will take a closer look at how you can be prepared for when a problem or a crisis crops up.


Think, how can you use this digital space to elevate your business in this time?
For example, are you facing any type of negative comments on your page? Stop. Take a breath. Step away from the computer for a hot minute. You want to ‘Hug your haters.’ Answering complaints increases customer advocacy, while not answering complaints decreases customer advocacy. You should be answering every complaint, on every channel, all of the time. 

If necessary take the conversation offline. This provides the complainer with space for you to have a private, 1:1 conversation so you can find out what really went wrong. Most online complainers simply want an audience to broadcast their complaint and actually don’t expect to receive a response. If you can pleasantly surprise a complainer in 60 minutes or less, you’ll have the chance to turn them into a supporter.

Are you not sure what to say when your business is feeling tight? Something is better than nothing. What if your business was a person during this time - would they respond with humour, caring empathy, 

Make sure to set clear expectations about what your brand’s response time will be in your Crisis Management plan.


The first response to a complaint should be a holding statement, which your business has prepared and agreed on based on scenario planning. Creating a holding statement that mentions you’re aware of the issue and you’re looking into it, shows you’re compassionate. Promise real-time updates with a date and time as to when you’ll be providing that update. 

Check out our free downloadable for more info about creating effective holding statements.


This traffic light system is what we use to determine the importance of the action that needs to be taken for every comment. 

Don’t panic! 

Problem comments and posts don’t happen very often, but if you have a plan behind you, you’ll be prepared to deal with it!

Red Light = brand damaging, involves employee names or details or outs a lying executive.
Orange Light = could damage brand if not dealt with in a public manner but a holding statement can often work here. (ohhh yeah, as mentioned above holding statements are handy!)
Green Light = All other posts get the green light!

From here you also want a detailed escalation process so you can reach the right people to give you an informed response and confirm your action plan. 

If you’re experiencing a real crisis, you should always involve other team members to help you come up with a solution. 

Who you involve is dependent on the issue.  

Have an established chain of command ready to go with resources available and key phrases to look for. Know the chain of command and report it as soon as you sense trouble. 

In a crisis you’ll need to evaluate and potentially halt all other promotion including ads, social media posts, emails … everything! 

TOP TIP - Be prepared!

Anna is a passionate member of the rural community. She is not only our Community Chatter but super Mum to Isabelle and older brother Jonty, as well as loving wife to Jon.

Anna grew up on a sheep & beef farm in Marlborough, & in later years the Wairarapa. She makes the most of every opportunity which allows her to swap her city shoes for boots and get back out onto the farm. Adding to our team of photographers, Anna also loves getting her camera out to capture our amazing rural scenes.

In her spare time Anna can be found racing round the netball court, indulging in great wine and food, & spending time with family.