3 Crucial Steps to Help Your Client During a Crisis
It’s important for lawyers to understand the necessary steps to handling a public crisis for their clients. Having a crisis communications plan isn’t normally emphasized until it’s too late, so it’s essential that you have a plan in place to best serve your clients. You don’t have much time to address a crisis anymore. Bad publicity travels fast and you need to jump into action as soon as possible.
There are three crucial steps you should to take to help your client when faced with a crisis.
First, you need to gather the facts of the situation. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is easy for a crisis to escalate even further when all the facts aren’t shared upfront. In tense situations you need to think several steps ahead so you can respond to any type of scenario. A common misstep is not making a plan because you don’t think the risk is likely. If you don’t plan for every situation, you are increasing your chances for the mishandling of a crisis situation.
Secondly, define your target audience and message. You aren’t speaking to the media or the interviewer, you’re addressing the people. The victim affected by the crisis must always stay top of mind. The right message to the wrong audience will not be effective. You also need to make sure that you have validated the victim. They need to know that their voices are heard before you can move forward. You need to give them a platform to express their opinions as well as involving them in the process of recovery.
After you have gathered all the facts and defined your target audience, you need to sell your position. There are seven ways you can potentially react to a crisis: attack, counterattack, defend, sell, ignore, deflect, and apologize. Most of these are emotional reactions to a situation. It might feel natural to deflect accusations made against your client, but keeping emotions out of your strategy is essential to client success. Selling is the most effective of these because it is the only solution that will keep your client happy, while also ensuring that they remain your client in the future. When in the midst of a crisis you need to advocate for your position. This doesn’t mean that you’re selling the public how great the client is because at the end of all this, it’s not about you. The classic mistake many lawyers make is bringing up the clients track record as if their blunders are meaningless with their spotless past. You need to sell your plan of resolving the crisis and be as transparent as possible.
These are the top three steps you should take when dealing with a client in a crisis situation. Watch Brian Stephens explain the three crucial steps to help your client during a crisis.