Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.
Crisis: Not necessarily the first word that comes to mind when you think of the wedding industry. Sure, the buttercream could melt off of a cake on a hot summer day, and on occasion, the event itself may cancel. But for the majority, the wedding industry is a relatively low-key place to hang your hat.
That said, things can and will pop up. Unhappy clients or vendors could blast you on social media. You are preparing to announce a major shift in the company but word gets out before you share it. A former employee decides to go out on their own without telling you. Photos from your portfolio are taken and used on someone else’s site. Sound familiar? I have no doubt that either you or a friend has experienced at least one of the above.
It’s all the more reason you should put a crisis plan in place – with the hopes that you never have to use it. So how do you go about preparing for the worst?
Outline the scenarios
Now is the time to ask yourself – what could actually go wrong? Carve time out of your schedule to start listing potential scenarios and revisit it every six months. Find yourself coming up short? Ask employees and trusted colleagues to chime in. Some common situations include:
- Poor review from unhappy clients
- Negative public backlash from a fellow vendor
- Employees (former or current) who receive negative press as a result of something that’s not even connected to your company
- Accusations regarding business practices from a competitor
The list goes on and on and varies depending on your offerings. This step is absolutely essential to the process because it gives focus to what you should be preparing for.
Which leads us to:
Have draft responses ready
Once you’ve identified potential scenarios, it’s now time to begin outlining responses and creating any material that may be necessary. This could include, but is not limited to:
- Draft emails you could update in a pinch
- Initial copy for responses to reviews that can be tailored to the scenario
- Script for voicemails that you may have to put in place in times of crisis
- Press release templates
- Company fact sheet
Surround yourself with the best team possible
Any time someone kindly complements me on seemingly being able to “do it all,” I quickly correct them and clarify that it takes a team of very smart people to help keep the company going. I have an accountant, a financial advisor, two business coaches, a lawyer and an insurance broker. I make sure to surround myself with the best of the best so if a crisis arises, I know I have people to lean on. I would encourage you to do the very same thing.
Update your contacts list
If you want to successfully respond to a crisis, then you need to do so quickly, which is all the more reason you should make it a priority to update your contact lists on a regular basis. So what type of contact lists should you have handy?
- Your aforementioned “team” of consultants
- Vendors you work with on a regular basis
- All current clients (and it would be handy to have the updated contact information for all clients in the last 3 or so years)
- Media list – local, national, niche or all of the above
The above to-dos may seem overwhelming at first, but they are absolutely essential. The good news? You can take it step-by-step, slowly building a safety net with the hopes that you’ll never have to use it. So make it a priority in 2016 to set yourself up for success.