Skip to content

So startups should communicate when there are problems

Due to errors in communication, many a crisis-ridden startup has fallen even deeper into trouble. The latest example is the Bonn-based online retailer Von Floerke, whose CEO David Schirrmacher is involved in contradictions, informs his shareholders too late and has repeatedly put off disgruntled customers.

Not every young company can afford experienced PR people for crisis communication. That’s why Dirk von Manikowsky, crisis adviser at Hering Schuppener, gives ten tips on how founders can avoid the worst. Manikowsky has been working for the agency for seven years, previously working as press spokesman for a private bank in Cologne as well as in financial and crisis communications. His motto is: well-established communication does not help to prevent a crisis – but it prevents the crisis from causing collateral damage.

Dirk von Manikowsky advises: To be fast . Speed counts. Otherwise there will be rumors that are scattered through forums and review portals and lead to further speculation.

Speed counts. Otherwise there will be rumors that are scattered through forums and review portals and lead to further speculation. Once it’s clear that mistakes have happened, founders should be concerned about the contents of their messages. Even if nobody has yet learned about the problems. Because: “The moment it flashes and thunders, it’s too late to think about the communication,” says von Manikowsky.

Even if nobody has yet learned about the problems. Because: “The moment it flashes and thunders, it’s too late to think about the communication,” says von Manikowsky. Tasks must be clearly distributed. PR staff need to know who does what and who informs whom. This avoids that several people do the same job and other activities remain.

PR staff need to know who does what and who informs whom. This avoids that several people do the same job and other activities remain. It is also important that the crisis companies know with whom they need to communicate and how they provide information: their shareholders, customers, journalists and, most importantly, employees.

Managers should be honest with their employees and clarify the state of affairs. It must be made clear to the team that the communication should run centrally via a job or a contact person. All inquiries should then be passed on to this person, even when inquiring outside the company. If necessary, startups can also send their employees a ready-made statement that they can then use.

And clarify the state of affairs. It must be made clear to the team that the communication should run centrally via a job or a contact person. All inquiries should then be passed on to this person, even when inquiring outside the company. If necessary, startups can also send their employees a ready-made statement that they can then use. Startups should find a balance when customers should be informed about a crisis, as this is a highly sensitive target group. “If I can assume that the topic concerns only a small circle at an early stage, then I do not have to immediately inform the entire public about it,” advises Manikowsky. As an example, he calls for investigations by the prosecutor. In such a case, he recommends founders that they should not reject the allegations, but should communicate that they are also arrested, that clarifies the matter.

Founders should be informed about a crisis as it is a highly sensitive target group. “If I can assume that the topic concerns only a small circle at an early stage, then I do not have to immediately inform the entire public about it,” advises Manikowsky. As an example, he calls for investigations by the prosecutor. In such a case, he recommends founders that they should not reject the allegations, but should communicate that they are also arrested, that clarifies the matter. An important point: action. “If I am away, unreachable, or have no reasonable answers, it often works like confirming rumors and fueling speculation,” says the crisis adviser. “I like to say that no comment is not the answer.” Tip: Founders should convey that they are reviewing the situation and having their best employees on it. You get the next day with the current status and hope that no customers were harmed. The company is taking the crisis seriously, is already working on a solution and thinking of the users.

“If I am away, unreachable, or have no reasonable answers, it often works like confirming rumors and fueling speculation,” says the crisis adviser. “I like to say that no comment is not the answer.” Tip: Founders should convey that they are reviewing the situation and having their best employees on it. You get the next day with the current status and hope that no customers were harmed. The company is taking the crisis seriously, is already working on a solution and thinking of the users. One way to inform and update your customers is to create your own website. Founders can update them, send the link or refer to it. But: “It can not get worse than rushing to offer information that will be taken back later. This costs founders additional trust points, “said Manikowksy.

Founders can update them, send the link or refer to it. But: “It can not get worse than rushing to offer information that will be taken back later. This costs founders additional trust points, “said Manikowksy. Managing directors should put themselves in the position of the opposite. In the communication you are welcome to name positive examples and learnings. But only if they come across believably and the other side does not feel cheated. “In a car accident, you can not say that although the driver’s door is damaged, but at least the trunk lid still works,” says the crisis consultant by way of example.

In the communication you are welcome to name positive examples and learnings. But only if they come across believably and the other side does not feel cheated. “In a car accident, you can not say that although the driver’s door is damaged, but at least the trunk lid still works,” says the crisis consultant by way of example. Every step should be credible and help to improve the crisis situation. Only in this way do startups retain the trust of all concerned. The Hering-Schuppener adviser: “If founders make a promise, then they have to keep that. And if that fails, they will have to pay or at least apologize. In the worst case scenario, this can also mean giving up the company. “Tips from the Zalando spokesman: The 5 biggest PR mistakes of startups For years, Boris Radke has built up corporate communications for Zalando. Here he gives startup founders tips for better PR – even in times of crisis.

Published inStartups

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: