Bounce Back: Rules for Crisis Management


Alex, I was recently promoted after my immediate supervisor was fired. The company faced what should have been a hiccup on social media. But my boss tried to defend the company and then he blamed and attacked the people who posted negative reviews and accusations online. It became a huge storm and ultimately lead to him being fired. I don’t know what he should have done differently, but I know that how he responded made things much worse. What should I do if I am in the same position? Grace

Into each life a little rain must fall, or so goes the old adage. The same is true for brands. Whether you are a personality or solopreneur or you are responsible for a large business brand, chances are, sooner or later, you are going to have to deal with a crisis. How you respond to that crisis can be the difference between an unpleasant drizzle and a torrential downpour that washes all of your good-will and positive reputation down the drain.

But, if you remember BOUNCE BACK, you can weather the storm.

B - Breathe - Responding to a crisis without fully understanding the parameters can make a bad situation much, much worse. You need to respond quickly, but thoughtfully. Take a moment to breathe and evaluate before you respond.

O - Organize - Organize all of the verifiable facts before you issue a response. Don’t speculate or guess. Think about what your consumers need to hear for reassurance and to address their fears, concerns, or anger.

U - Unequivocal - Don’t pass the buck. Take complete responsibility for your part of the crisis, no more, no less. Don’t be tempted to take on more responsibility than is yours or martyr yourself or your brand for the sake of being seen as generous. Be generous in your work to fix the problem, but only take responsibility for your actual role.

N - No Negativity - No matter how bitter you may feel or how angry you are, don’t respond with negativity or with blame. Even if you are a victim, don’t allow yourself to play the victim.

C- Contextomy - Never repeat the allegations. Remember, the media is largely honorable and will broadcast your complete response statement, but it is very easy for others to take your comments out of context.

E - Executive Level Empathy - A crisis should be addressed by the highest ranking executive possible, with a professional, yet humble and empathetic tone and message.


B - Ban the Bull Shit - You can’t bull shit your way out of a crisis.

A - Action Plan - Before you respond, make sure that you have a clear, concise, easy-to-convey, and actionable plan to fix the problem and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Taking responsibility for a crisis without having an action plan is an invitation for further bad press and consumer unhappiness. What are you going to DO to fix the problem?

C - Communication Strategy - So you have compiled the facts, checked your tone and attitude, picked the spokesperson, decided on an action plan, and wrote out a concise, factual, empathetic response. Choose how you convey that response carefully.

K - Keep Yourself Accountable and the “Fix” Transparent - Once the initial crisis is no longer making the news, it can be easy to slide back into old behavior or hope that people won’t hold you to your word. This is a huge mistake. Not only should you make sure that whatever you have pledged to do to fix the problem gets done, you should make sure that people can check up on those changes.

Alexandrea Merrell