Celebrities. Mega-consumer brands. Fortune 500 companies. And of course, former presidents. 

No one is immune from a crisis, even your average Joes can fall victim to a crisis by going viral for the wrong reason.  

As we like to say, it’s not a matter of it but when a crisis will strike. 

When in crisis, organizations, executives and elected officials are frequently overtaken by events, and the narrative turns swiftly downward. That’s prime time for mistakes, which is the last thing your organization needs when your brand is most exposed and vulnerable to negative public perception. 

Here’s some of the top mistakes you don’t want to make when a crisis strikes:  

  • Ignore the Problem: Hoping the problem will blow over or assuming it won’t affect your brand can be disastrous. Acknowledge the issue promptly, take responsibility, and show that you’re committed to finding a solution. 
  • Delaying Response: In today’s 24/7 news cycle, any sort of public display of delay can be costly. Waiting too long to respond can allow the crisis to escalate and become a full-blown disaster. Act swiftly, even if you don’t have all the facts yet. You can always provide updates as more information becomes available. 
  • Lack of Transparency: Transparency is key during a crisis. Failing to provide accurate and timely information can lead to rumors and speculation, and it can call your credibility into question. Be open and honest about what happened, why it happened, and what you’re doing to address it. 
  • Inconsistent Messaging: Organizations need to sing from the same songbook in a crisis. Conveying conflicting information can create confusion and erode trust. Ensure that all communication is coordinated and aligns with your organization’s key messages. 
  • Failing to Learn and Adapt: Once the crisis is resolved, it’s tempting to move on and forget about it. However, this is a missed opportunity for growth. Analyze what went wrong, how you responded, and what could be done better in the future. Use the crisis as a learning experience to strengthen your organization’s resilience.

The first 24-48 hours in a crisis are the most critical. How your organization responds in that window will determine whether you can control your narrative or if the organization and its reputation become overtaken by outside forces. In fact, as we’ve seen time and again, a well-managed crisis can even enhance an organization’s reputation by demonstrating responsiveness, commitment to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement. 

This article was written by President Natalie Bauer Luce. Natalie is a seasoned communications and public affairs strategist with extensive experience in government, law, media politics and business.