Leading a senior living organization is a special calling, one that’s both personally and professionally rewarding. It’s also challenging, even on the quietest of days. When a crisis happens, the entire organization is on alert; staff, residents and family members are impacted in a variety of ways.
A crisis doesn’t have to be an explosion, an evacuation, or a loss of life. A crisis can begin as a bad habit, an unresolved problem, or poor leadership; it can quietly simmer until it overflows into something bigger, something that over time can impact an organization’s ability to fulfill its purpose and mission. Once that suffers, so does an organization’s bottom line.
The only way to manage and survive a crisis – whether it’s immediate and life-threatening or ongoing and behind the scenes – is by following the Boy Scout mantra, Be Prepared.
Develop a Crisis Communications Plan
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. You need a crisis plan, one that doesn’t collect dust on the bookshelf or is lost on your company’s hard drive.
The plan doesn’t have to be a 300-page, five-pound document. It needs to be simple; a roadmap that your crisis team can follow while emotions are high and adrenaline is at its peak. With the right crisis training and preparation, the crisis team can respond almost on autopilot because they’ve practiced, practiced, practiced.
Get Your Reputation in Pique Condition
Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
You’ll do things differently. Everyday things. Things that represent the culture of your community, the fiber of your organization, and the spirit of the people who live and work there. These things fill your organization’s goodwill well and during a crisis, you want that well overflowing.
Organizations have a million opportunities every day to fill the goodwill well. These opportunities come from:
Relationships. How do leaders and staff interact with residents, families, community partners, online followers, and government officials. Are they honest and transparent? Responsive and respectful? Friendly, polite, and patient?
Media relationships, in particular, need to be handled with care. Invite members of the media to your community for events or programming so they can get to know your wonderful residents and staff. Always meet their deadlines; be a good resource for them, even if you aren’t part of the story, and never lie or mislead them. Share your good news often.
Behavior. How do staff behave when no one is looking. Do they do the right thing even if no one is there to see or appreciate the goodwill? Think about your community driver’s interaction with the general public while he waits for residents to return to the van from a grocery store outing. Every smile, pleasantry, and polite conversation he has with a passerby or store manager is an investment in your goodwill well.
Communication. Is everyone open, honest, responsive and respectful? Do residents and staff feel heard? Can they feel safe and comfortable sharing concerns or problems with leadership?
Attitude. Is everyone welcoming, positive, patient, helpful, respectful? Does your staff follow through on promises and go above and beyond in their service and care?
Community presence. Is your organization a good neighbor? Are residents and staff generous with their time and talent? Does your organization open its doors to the community and share its resources and expertise? Does your organization partner with schools and universities?
Earning the Benefit of the Doubt
It’s in our nature to want to give people and organizations the benefit of the doubt. It’s also in our nature to look for the bad and expect the worst, especially in senior care.
If your goodwill well is full when a crisis unfolds, people are willing to give you more grace. They’re willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and listen with an open mind as you acknowledge, explain and fix the situation. People who like and trust you (your brand) and consider you a good neighbor (employer, partner, senior living community) will stand by you.
Do you have questions or can we help? Call (561) 251-3151 or visit email@example.com.
Hollywood stars and sought after sports legends may get away with a love/hate relationship with the press, but for everyone else, a prickly rapport with the media and influencers is bad business. Your relationship with local and national reporters are as important to the health and well-being of your community as your occupancy numbers, hospital readmission rates, or even the results of resident and employee satisfaction surveys.
Sounds extreme, you say? It’s not.
Your relationship with reporters impacts nearly every aspect of your marketing/sales and public relations efforts. And the only way to create and nurture mutually beneficial and trusted relationships with reporters is through a sustained, long-term media relations campaign.
Done right, media relations campaigns can:
1. Make You Credible and Trusted
Inundated with “fake news” and sponsored content on social media platforms, consumers view marketing content with a critical eye. News stories reported by reputable journalists and trusted news sources, however, offer a credible third-party endorsement.
A 2014 study by Neilson reports:
Expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source
of information for affecting consumers along all stages of the purchase process
across product categories.
2. Bolster Lead Generation
Great things can happen when marketing and PR work in tandem during the planning stages of a lead generation campaign. You can boost your lead-generation campaign by packaging content so it’s editorial-friendly and planning marketing events that have real news value. A local expert, author or celebrity chef, for example, creates opportunities for pre- and post-media outreach as well as engaging social media posts.
According to the PR analytics firm AirPR:
Media relations campaigns that complement marketing activities
can generate 10x to 50x the conversions of standard advertising campaigns.
3. Fill the Goodwill Well
In any business, it’s about relationships. During a time of crisis, the relationships you have with reporters will help you manage your message and control the situation. Negative stories are going to run, regardless, but reporters who understand your business and know your key people are in a better position to write accurate and fair stories and listen to your side with an open mind. If you made the mistake of flying under the radar or haven’t established a relationship yet, reporters will be less likely to go the extra mile to get the full story.
4. Position Your People as the Expert & Valued Resource
The best source for reporters is the one who puts the reporters’ needs before the organization’s wants. In other words, take time to provide the reporter with an informational interview or background on an industry issue even if your organization won’t be featured in the story.
Reporters appreciate those who help them do their jobs better (and meet pressing deadlines) and you’ll be top of mind next time they’re working on a story that could include your organization. They’ll also be more likely to consider a story pitch from you or share your good news.
5. Build Your Brand
Media relations complements nearly every aspect of a marketing and communications strategy, including the elevation of your brand. Media coverage builds awareness of your brand in a compelling, credible way. Done strategically, such stories can sell your products, services, and lifestyle better than an expensive ad campaign.
6. Honor Your Residents and Staff
If you want your staff