Crisis Management In SaaS Companies

Ankit Dhamsaniya
Read Time: 6 Minutes
Crisis Management In SaaS Companies

Companies face the constant challenge of maintaining a positive brand reputation in today’s hyperconnected world. And despite their best efforts to manage their PR, it's pretty common for even the most successful companies to find themselves facing a PR crisis. 

This could be due to various reasons ranging from an unfortunate incident or a product defect to an ill-conceived marketing campaign or a social media misstep. 

A single misstep can quickly leave you handling a full-blown PR nightmare. It's, hence, crucial for companies to prepare in advance by putting a plan in place for managing a PR crisis. 

In this review, we’re going to share some tips on how SaaS companies can manage a PR crisis. Let’s jump right in.

1. Implement your crisis plans

Even before a crisis breaks out, you should already have two plans in place: a plan to rectify the issue or a crisis resolution plan, and a communication plan.

You’ll need to implement both plans in the event of a crisis. You should adopt a holistic approach to SaaS PR crisis management.

The resolution plan will depend on the crisis in question. 

So, for example, you may have a plan for if your company suffers a massive data breach or when someone from your team ends up executing your excellent SaaS marketing strategy in the wrong way. 

Make copies of these plans and share them with the key crisis committee members. Speaking of key crisis committee members, that’s the other thing. You need to create a crisis committee and have all the members and their roles documented in your crisis resolution plan.

A crisis response team is usually comprised of the following members:

  • Chief executive officer

  • Department heads

  • Board of directors

  • Media advisors

  • Public relations professionals

  • Legal counsel

Once all your crisis committee members are on the same page about what’s happening, discuss each step specified in your crisis resolution plan and delegate tasks. For instance, you should have a specific spokesperson who’ll handle all inquiries and issue the company press statement. 

Your crisis communication plan, on the other hand, should show the stakeholders you need to address in the event of a crisis. Stakeholders may include your investors, partners, employees, SaaS product users, and the general public.

Follow this communication plan to ensure your stakeholders know what your organization is doing to resolve the crisis. The communication plan should show who the spokesperson is and the communication channels–social media, TV, your website, among others—that’ll be used. 

You could also include templates to be followed when creating press statements. If you don’t have time to do this, you can use artificial intelligence tools to help you. A guide to generative AI can help you familiarize yourself with these tools, if it’s your first time using them.

2. Release a statement to the public immediately

An immediate response is crucial for effective PR crisis management. Draft a statement for the public as soon as possible. An initial statement will help prevent any damage to public confidence. Silence creates room for rumors to grow. It also gives the impression that you don't care as much as you should.

Whether you’re releasing a written statement or holding a press conference, you’ll need the proper communication flow. You can't go wrong with this flow:

  • Let them know that you're aware of the problem.

  • Discuss this issue.

  • If any, address any inaccuracies and rumors.

  • Explain the steps being taken to resolve the issue.

  • Explain your capacity and expertise. Give your commitment to fix the crisis.

  • Assure the public it won't happen again.

The goal of your message is to show you're a responsible, hands-on brand and that you take any issues seriously. 

As an example, Cloudflare suffered an outage issue in mid-2022. The company was swift in delivering a statement. They also released real-time updates on their social media accounts.

Cloud flare resource

Make sure all the information you include in your statement is accurate. If you need more time for a detailed investigation, communicate this and share the information you already have. Inaccuracy can lead to an even bigger crisis, so avoid that at all costs.

If it’s a major crisis, consider contacting media outlets. This should be straightforward, as most journalists share their contact details online. But if you can’t find these contacts, use email finder tools. Furthermore, for a seamless resolution at an elevated level, it is advisable to seek the expertise of a PR crisis management team. The paramount goal of PR crisis management is to guarantee that your press release and ensuing updates proficiently reach all relevant stakeholders.

3. Take responsibility

When a crisis breaks out, your responsibility is to do whatever is necessary to solve the problem and mitigate the adverse effects on your brand reputation. So, whether you're directly involved in the issue or not, you'll need to take responsibility for the crisis.

Did delicate user data get leaked? Did your marketing team push an insensitive message? Was your social media team careless with a certain post? It doesn’t matter who or what happened. You need to take responsibility.

Remember, you’re an organization. That means even if it’s just one person from your company who’s directly implicated in an issue, you bear some accountability for what transpired because they’re a part of your group. Give the general public the assurance you’re finding ways to rectify the wrong. Never wash your hands off the crisis.

4. Media-train your team

Don’t make the mistake of not preparing your staff for a crisis. Even if you have a spokesperson, media personnel are likely to get as many interviews as they can from different sources. They want a scoop on the story and will talk to anyone linked to your business to get it.

Therefore, media-train your team so that what they say will be consistent with the story you're sharing. Remember, your team doesn’t just include key officials such as board chairs, executive directors, and other executives. It also includes your junior staff members.

To ensure no one says something that can further harm your reputation, train your staff, showing them how to answer questions and the kinds of questions to answer or avoid. 

And when they can’t answer particular questions, train them on how to respond to such questions. For example, they could direct the interviewer to another person within your organization who has the answer. So make sure to give your employees a contact person to whom they can direct the media for more information.

5. Reach out to your investors and partners

Once you’ve addressed the general public, you’ll need to address your investors and partners. The investors have entrusted you with financial support to grow your SaaS business. Their reputations are also linked to your brand, and none of them would want reputational damage from this. 

Therefore, send out the necessary communication through email or SMS as soon as possible. You should assure them you’re on top of the crisis situation in your message. Explain to them what the crisis is about and what is being done to resolve it. 

If needed, you may share additional relevant information you did not share with the general public.

6. Manage your social media 

Social media channels are breeding grounds for defamatory statements and rumors that can negatively affect your brand reputation even more. So, you must manage your social presence and stay on top of all social media discussions on the crisis.

There are two ways you can manage your online reputation on social media for effective SaaS crisis management. These are by managing your social profiles and monitoring brand mentions.

You might have organic posts or paid ads scheduled to publish later. When a crisis happens, revisit your scheduled publications calendar.

Assess if your scheduled posts can still be published amidst the public relations crisis. People might just criticize you even more if you're involved in a serious crisis and you publish a random post promoting something. Replace such posts with those updating the public on your progress in resolving the crisis. 

Meanwhile, understanding the general sentiment around your organization will help you take the necessary steps to mitigate the effect of the crisis on your SaaS brand’s reputation.

Manage your social media 

You can use brand-monitoring software like Brand24 and Buzzsumo to assess what people say about you on social media, blog posts, and online in general. 

By looking at brand mentions, you’ll be able to analyze whether your responses are turning the tide in your favor. If they aren’t, then you can make the necessary adjustments to your messaging. 

Watch out for fake news as well. It’s better to address this head-on and immediately. All you need is one fake claim. If that fake claim is shared multiple times, it can become the truth for many. Stay ahead of the game.

Conclusion

Most businesses end up dealing with major PR issues because they were not swift in addressing the initial negative publicity issue. In this guide, we’ve shared six tips on how SaaS companies can manage a PR crisis. This should help you get your crisis management strategies right and move past the storm as quickly as possible. 

Once again, start by implementing your crisis plans, which you should create well beforehand. Release a statement taking responsibility immediately and showing what’s being done to rectify the situation. Remember to media-train your team and contact key stakeholders.

Finally, manage your social media accounts and monitor brand mentions.

Follow these tips for effective PR crisis management for your SaaS brand, and you should expect excellent results.

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