In a crisis management situation, there are multiple stakeholders to manage. In fact too many. But of all the stakeholders, your key stakeholder to manage is not the media, but the next-of-kins (NOKs) of your employees - especially if the incident results in death.
The NOK is your key stakeholder in the crisis management plan as their relationship to the critically injured, or deceased, employee gives significant weigh to their words and actions towards your company. If the NOK speaks positively of the company's response and role in the incident affecting their family members, no outsider can possibly say anything negative about the company with any credibility.
NOKs as affected third-parties are therefore influential spokespersons during a crisis management situation. Properly managed, the NOKs can help the company successfully protect its reputation by speaking up for it, or at the very least not make damaging accusations before formal investigations are completed. It is therefore imperative that your company's crisis management plan include a NOK Management sub-plan where trained Family Liaison Officers are deployed to engage the NOKs.
As NOKs are not your employees, you do not have direct control over what they say to the media. Early and professional engagement of the NOKs is therefore necessary to bring them on the side of the company. In crisis after crisis, experience has shown that the company that can win over the hearts and minds of the NOKs, will have the greatest chance of successfully managing a crisis.
Contrary to what most people think, the media is not your key stakeholder in a crisis. The NOK is.
If your company does not have a NOK Management Plan or trained staff to act as Family Liaison Officers in a crisis, do contact us for a discussion. We are the only company in Singapore that provides NOK Management Training Courses.