Don’t let crisis manage you
Every organization, even the church has a knee jerk. Taking the time to PROactively assess your crisis is the first step to avoiding the Knee Jerk reaction! How the public attributes the crisis in relationship to the church as a whole can be a huge factor in their perception of the situation. If your church has a history of denial tactics or past indiscretion, their perception is likely going to result in a higher degree of reputation damage. If on the other hand you’ve taken care to maintain an authentic relationship with your people, weathering this current crisis will probably require just a little sweeping and mopping. In either case, here are some practical steps based on proven public relations theory on how to respond in a crisis situation:
(1) Don’t wait for word-of-mouth to spread doing your PR work for you! Reply as soon as possible. Give the people affected the opportunity to hear it first hand. Don’t let the situation control you.
(2) Be transparent and stick to the truth. One way or another, in any crisis, the truth comes out. Better it comes out from the start from you or you risk losing the faith and trust not just in the immediate, but in the future to come. People are skeptical of the church. They look for opportunities to watch you fall. There’s a bigger picture here. Remember it’s not your church that suffers, it’s God’s Kingdom. Don’t give the enemy a foothold.
(3) Social media is your friend. Used with discretion it’s is a great tool for getting the story out quickly. But don’t be a twit when you tweet and never try to save face on Facebook. If you post it, leave it. Deleting what you post is going to do nothing but create the suspicion that you’re trying to hide something.
(4) As the story unfolds and details emerge, keep your public posted.But a word of caution, don’t admit to anything until all your facts are clear. Otherwise, you are going to find yourself tap dancing around the issue as you try to put all the facts in order before they’re ready. A better response is to let your public know that you will keep them posted as the situation becomes clearer. Never give the public the chance to fill in their own blanks.
(5) It’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it. Tone can speak volumes, especially when it’s delivered online. Be honest, but be professional.
Remember, communicating the right way with not only your congregation, but the community as well is the right thing to do. It goes a long way to strengthening future relationships and softening the blow crisis can have on your church. Respond PROactively. Keep Mr. Knee Jerk at bay!