In 2013, UK supermarket giant Tesco was caught up in an international public scandal when it was revealed the chain had sold burgers contaminated with horse meat.
While that’s crisis enough to do lasting damage to any brand, Tesco made things worse for itself by posting a pre-scheduled tweet that became a viral sensation on social media for its unfortunate usage of words.
“It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay!”
The company maintained the tweet was composed days in advance of the scandal, in effect laying the blame for the gaffe on careless management rather than on a mischievous, ill-considered sense of humor.
As extreme a case of public faux pas as that is, the hit-the-hay episode highlights how important it is for a business of any size to coordinate its public interaction and statements during a crisis.
The best way to do this is to embrace new methods of streamlining internal communications and making sure everyone knows what to do and say. The newest of those methods is one-touch video conferencing.
Speaking with One Voice
A public crisis doesn’t have to be global in nature to cause real tension between a business and its customers.
It could be as simple as a misprint–like accidentally telling your customers there’s a three month wait for a product, when it’s actually more than three years (as recently happened with a small guitar maker)–or something more complex, like a little negative publicity finding its way into local media.
Sometimes even a technical glitch, like a server going down for an extended period, can require some public relations schmoozing. In these times it’s important that a business speak with one voice, so it doesn’t muddy things by giving conflicting information to the public, or lose credibility by creating the impression there’s no one in charge.
The easiest way to get that kind of unity is to have everyone sit down face-to-face and agree on what needs to happen next. This can be a feat of coordination when not everyone is on hand to sit around the same boardroom table.
One-Touch Video Conferencing for Instant Discussion
Video conferencing is the obvious answer for putting people located in different offices, different states, or even different companies into the same shared virtual space.
However, when time is finite and a meeting impromptu, it’s crucial that all these different end points can be sewn together quickly and by the required personnel themselves.
Such are the requirements that have given rise to a series of one-touch video conferencing tools that operate with touch-screen ease and come preloaded with direct links to key personnel.
A number of companies, including Lifesize, Cisco, and Polycom, have recently released hardware for one-touch systems. Microsoft, too, got in on the act and partnered with several VC providers to create Skype Room Systems, a central hub that lets Skype for Business users access group video calls through a central tablet interface.
These intuitive devices let anyone, including those with little to no IT knowledge, sit down in an already configured room and launch a group video conference as easily as they’d start streaming YouTube on an iPad. Which means people can get to work faster on crafting a response to crisis at hand.
Video Conferencing Crisis Management
One-touch video conferencing doesn’t alter the functionality or quality of a video conference call, it just makes it simpler. Like switching from a manual to an automatic transmission on the road, the underlying hardware remains the same, it’s just easier to operate–and that’s crucial in a crisis.
One-touch devices connect to existing video calling screens and microphones, or ship with their own, and need to be set up only once. So when the horse meat hits the fan, any member of a crisis management team can initiate the call to bring everyone together, and everyone has the ability to answer that call, with no discussion of platforms or interoperability or what wire goes where.
You can still share screens, files, and common whiteboards, still record and manage the meeting as your VC platform will allow, so everyone, including experts for external companies, can make their point and preserve a copy of the final decision.
It lets a business compile a response for the media or just their own customers in minutes, and it should all be clear enough for dissemination across a range of channels seeing as anyone with the power to reach out into the public domain was able to sit in on the meeting.
In fact, you could simultaneously record a video, draft a press release, and prepare a splash page for the web within the same meeting. And no one could later claim they didn’t get the memo about halting all social media messaging, because they would have heard it directly from the horse’s mouth.