At some point your hospital will face a crisis. Follow these tips to successfully navigate the situation.
Every organization faces a crisis of some sort from time to time. Social media has certainly increased the likelihood of a problem becoming a crisis. There are now so many venues where news of the crisis can be spread and an abundant number of ways consumers can weigh-in on the crisis.
Deborah Budd, writing for Second Wind provided some very valuable insight into crisis management that is worthwhile to share.
When your hospital faces a crisis, here are seven rules to follow:
1. Don’t hesitate
It’s foolish to think the crisis will go away. Most of the time it won’t. The internet and social media almost guarantee it won’t unless responded. Get in front t of the situation as much as possible. Acknowledge the situation and state that you are looking into it and will be back with more information when it’s available. This establishes you as a source for information rather than a target.
2. Stick to the plan
It’s not easy but there can be a good result. Any crisis is uncomfortable and tense. But handled well it can increase stakeholder loyalty and enhance your hospital’s brand. Stick to the communications plan and see it through.
3. Silence is a loud message
Any information void will be filled with something. And usually it’s not good. The negative press and social media comments will become worse until you provide a reasoned and rational response
4. Respect those affected
Always acknowledge and respect those adversely affected. People want to know your hospital is acting to correct the problem that has occurred.
5. Don’t use data or facts to minimize the situation
Facts and data are only useful as much as they align with the concerns created by the crisis. Focus on those affected and use data as background.
6. Never ignore inquiries
“No comment” usually creates the perception of guilt. It’s much better to respond with “I don’t have answer but I’ll get back with you as soon as I do” or “here’s how we’re handling things now.” Never refuse to answer.
7. Never lie and don’t hide the negative stuff
In the end, integrity is the most important thing. Hiding the truth or not owning up to it will make matters worse. You earn credibility by being honest and sincere.
The day will come when your hospital is faced with a crisis. How you handle it will determine how your band is perceived. Handled appropriately and professionally will go a long way toward minimizing the crisis and making your brand even stronger.