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Crisis Communication Plan for Urban Outfitters

3112 words (12 pages) Business Assignment

10th Nov 2020 Business Assignment Reference this

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Table of Contents

  • Definition of a crisis 
  • Types of crisis 
  • Purpose of the crisis plan 
  • Objectives of the crisis plan 
  • Procedures and identification of the crisis team 
  • Crisis preparation and prevention steps 
  • Possible Crises
  • Communications procedure for handling a minor crisis 
  • Communications procedure for handling a major crisis 
  • How to reach the crisis team
  • Stakeholders
  • Identification of media and how to reach them 
  • What will be communicated to the media 
  • Identification of social media 
  • Social media guide
  • Social media post templates 

Definition of a crisis

A crisis is an unplanned event that directly or potentially threatens a company’s reputation, including the safety, welfare, the environment, and/or health of employees. It can also be defined as a crisis if it is of harm to the health, safety or welfare of citizens in communities surrounding our stores.

Types of crisis: Minor & Major 

Minor Crisis:

  • A minor crisis is confined to a limited area of a store or district
  • It results in minimal, if any, disruption of operations.
  • It is quickly brought under control.
  • It does not require the evacuation of all employees/customers.
  • It causes a minor injury or none at all. 
  • Media coverage is possible with events in this category but apt to be minimal. 

Major Crisis:

  • A major crisis may involve significant injury or loss of life
  • It can cause prolonged disruption of normal operations, substantial property damage, or a significant environmental impact-or holds potential for any of these. 
  • Media Inquiry is more likely to occur with events in this category, especially if other municipal emergency response groups have been called in for assistance.

Purpose of the Crisis Plan

As described above, a crisis is any event that can threaten a company’s reputation. In the event of a crisis, it is important to us that we are honest with our employees, customers, and the surrounding public. For this reason, we have this plan as a step by step guide that advises a plan of action in case of an emergency. We want to be able to inform the public as quickly as possible, so they know the measures they need to take. Our honest and transparent communication within our company as well as with the public will allow for questions and concerns to be answered as best possible.  This will eliminate confusion and allow for a crisis situation to be resolved in a calmer manner. This crisis plan will not only help executives of Urban Outfitters, but also employees, to implement successful and productive crisis communication with the public, especially with the media. 

Objectives of the Crisis Plan

The main objectives of this crisis plan are the following:

  • Outline a course of action to take in the case of an emergency or a crisis situation occurs 
  • Identify the crisis communications team 
  • Indicate the measures needed to be taken in order to allow prompt action in following the plan
    • Immediately gather the crisis communications team in order to evaluate the situation and plan for the next step.  
    • It is essential to acknowledge the situation and respond as rapidly as possible.
    • The response must be written or said in an apologetic manner but still making sure to protect the company’s reputation. 
  • Execute a way for the crisis communication team to confront the situation and take an instant action for responding to the media, stakeholders, and any victims of the crisis
    • Communicate and respond to the media by giving any information acquired 
      • In order to do this, it is best to use social media and post through different platforms to communicate with the public. 
      • Monitor social media for any confused customers or employees
      • Keep in mind that we are trying to reduce the likelihood of rumors
    • Assure stakeholders that this crisis will get resolved and restore their confidence in the company. 
    • Reach out to any victims or anyone who may have been affected or by the crisis. 
      • Do this is in a public manner so that stakeholders can be assured that we care about anyone that has been affected or hurt by the situation. 
  • Overall, educate employees and executives on how to maintain composure and be open and patient with the public throughout the crisis. 

Crisis Prevention and Preparation Steps 

 Overall, Urban Outfitter’s goal in a crisis situation, whether it be a minor crisis or a major crisis, is to be on top of things and manage the crisis in a rapid yet calm manner. In order to help both the employees and the crisis team handle the crisis, we outlined the things that they need to keep in mind in case one does occur. 

  • Before a crisis, it is important to be prepared and gather a team that is observant of potential crises and prepared in the event that one occurs. 
  • Once the crisis has occurred, it is essential to be in communication with the media. Acknowledge the crisis and communicate the facts and faults with the public. 
  • Habitually demonstrate credibility and preserve the company’s reputation whenever needed or possible 
  • Make sure to respond and communicate with the public and the company honestly by not withholding any information that can later be found out 
  • Admit to any wrongdoing or fault the company caused to the crisis 
  • Communicate in a way that is transparent and effective 
  • Practice truthfulness and integrity with both the employees and the customers 
  • Before, during, and after the crisis, make sure to preserve strong connections with stakeholders as well as customers so that your reputation can be repaired if a crisis does take place. 

Possible Crises:

  • Minor Crises: 
    • Dressing room crisis- This is considered a crisis when one is mistreated in a dressing room and is prevented by only allowing one customer in a dressing room at a time. 
    • Shoplifting crisis- This is considered a crisis when someone is seen shoplifting, in which a report must be made. 
    • Employee behavior crisis- This is considered a crisis when an employee makes derogatory statements or comments that can cause the company to be seen in a negative manner. It is unacceptable for an employee to make any inappropriate statements which may include any racist, sexist, or homophobic type comment. 
    • Executive behavior/relations crisis- This is considered a crisis when an executive makes inappropriate statements or acts inappropriately to customers or employees. 
  • Major Crises: 
    • Fire or Active Shooter on-site at one of the stores 
    • Weather crisis- This is considered a crisis when employees, customers, or stores are put in danger due to the weather. 
    • Labor rights crisis- This is considered a crisis when it is publically known that employees at Urban Outfitters are being treated unfairly. 
    • Health crisis- This is considered a crisis when people in the area of an Urban Outfitters store. 
    • Social media crisis- This is considered a crisis when something that is posted on behalf of Urban Outfitters that is inappropriate. 

Communications Procedure for Handling a Minor Crisis 

  • Store Manager becomes the PR Lead and informs other communication team members about the incident. 
  • Takes notes more detail about the incident including:
    • The type of incident 
    • When and where the incident occurred
    • Emergency response personnel on-site
    • Number and name of employees on staff
    • Any injuries
    • Any products that were stolen
    • Name of shoppers involved
    • What is being done to mitigate the incident
    • Who the appropriate contacts are and the best way to reach them 
  • PR Lead notifies and consults with the PR Manager to agree on key messages and responses to the query statements. 
  • A response is prepared and discussed with the division management to secure the approval of the statement. 
  • A statement is sent via fax, email, or text to PR Manager and Corporate PR Manager.
    • PR Lead serves as a prime contact for media. PR Manager and Corporate PR Manager serve as back-ups. 
  •  PR Lead fields media inquires and makes follow-up calls to media if necessary.

Communications Procedure for Handling a Major Crisis

  • The store manager receives notification from the Fire Dispatcher if involved, and compiles information about the event such as the basic facts and chronology of the event.
  • The store Manager becomes the PR Lead and informs other communications team members about the incident. 
  • Member of Urban Corporate goes to the site and obtains details from In-Store Manager including:
    • Type of incident
    • When and where the incident occurred
    • Chemical involvement
    • Emergency response personnel on-site
    • The number of employees on staff
    • Any injuries
    • What is being done to mitigate the incident
    • Who the appropriate contacts are and the best way to reach them 
  • In-Store Manager calls PR Lead with details of the incident with continuous updates.
  • PR Lead and Manager agree on key messages and responses to the query statements in order to gain approval and send the response out. 
  • A statement is sent via fax, email, or text to PR Manager and Corporate PR Manager. The rest of the PR team is required to review the incident in order to determine if more on-site support is needed. 
  • PR team discusses whether a press release is needed, and the Lead follows up with the media, employees, and reports the incident.
    • The PR Manager develops reports analyzing the communication aspects of the incident along with the lessons learned through the crisis.

Procedures and Crisis Communication Team 

It is essential to have a crisis communication team for your organization. The team will mainly consist of the most influential members of the team, including the CEO, the president, the members of the senior executive team, a lawyer, and a PR professional. Urban Outfitters is owned by URBN which also owns other companies such as Anthropology and Free people, meaning that their senior leadership group, including the CEO of URBN, will also be part of the crisis communication team. Below are the contacts for the senior leadership team of URBN. They are listed as the contacts because they are the highest ranked in the company and therefore will be the dominant voice.  

  • Chief Executive Officer: Trish Donnelly 
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222
  • Chief Financial Officer: Frank J. Conforti 
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222
  • President: Richard Hayne
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222
  • General Counsel and Secretary: Azeez Hayne
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222
  • Chief Creative Officer: Margaret A. Hayne
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222
  • Chief Executive Officer: Richard A. Hayne
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222
  • PR and Marketing Manager: Brittany Connor
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222
  • Company Lawyer: Joseph Stone
    • Work Phone: 415-111-1111
    • Fax: 415-222-2222

Stakeholders:

Stakeholders are extremely vital to a company and must be addressed when a crisis occurs. They are the people who have “a stake” in the company, or in other words, an interest in the company. If a crisis does take place, Urban Outfitters has to take into consideration their reputation with stakeholders and how it may be affected. Because of this, it is important to communicate effectively and honestly with them by releasing any information that is known during the time of the crisis. many stakeholders that they need to reach out to and communicate with if a crisis takes place. 

The Urban Outfitters stakeholders include the following:

  • All Employees including factory workers, models, store workers, and clerks. 
  • Customers
  • Companies that are also owned by URBN which include Anthropology, Free People, Vetri Family, Terrain, and BHLDN
  • Investors 
  • Social media influencers who represent the Urban brand

The Media and Media Contacts 

When a crisis happens, it is important for any company to communicate as quickly with the media as possible before people get the chance to create any false information on the issue. Urban Outfitters does have many stores located all over the United States, so in this case, we need to make sure to communicate with all of the other Urban Outfitters stores in the United States as well as the local news outlets. Because Urban Outfitters’ headquarters are located in Philadelphia, it is necessary to have the contact information for the local news sources as well as the other major news sources around the United States. 

  • Philadelphia Daily News
    • Editor: Michael Days
    • 283-344-7864
  • Philadelphia Weekly 
    • Editor: Kerith Gabriel 
    • 641-553-7890
  • CNN News
    • Robert Aouad: Producer 
    • 582-343-7789
  • Time
    • Dan Hirschorn 
    • 412-454-7799
  • Fox News
    • American Journalist and Television Correspondent: James Rosen 
    • 805-432-7831
  • ABC News
    • Television/Web
    • Jessica Zellermayer: Associate Producer
    • 523-557-8843
  • Buzzfeed
    • Cora Lewis: Business and Labor Reporter
    • 637-889-0482

Social Media

Urban Outfitters has many social media platforms that must be constantly monitored in order to examine any potential crises that may occur through these sites. Online crises happen very often, and they happen at an extremely fast pace. Therefore, the Urban Outfitters social media team needs to be aware of the potential damage a social media crisis can cause a company and must watch all the accounts very meticulously. The following are Urban Outfitters social media accounts: 

If Urban Outfitters is caught among a social media crisis, the following steps will help the social media team and PR executive confront and deal with the issue.

  • Assess the situation by determining whether the accusations made are truthful or invalid, how big of a crisis this is by understanding who is being affected and who ultimately knows about it and have a plan in mind in order to deal with the crisis. 
  • Respond to the public's criticism and make sure to apologize Accept and respond to criticism / apologize 
    • An apology should be sent out showing sensitivity and understanding 
    • Respond to as many people as possible, especially to those who were directly offended. 
  • Fix the situation by publicly speaking or posting on social media expressing the guilt you feel and re-posting or editing the offensive post in order for the public to know what it should have previously read
  • Dig deeper and find the root cause of the issue in order to prevent it from happening again

Social Media Apology Templates:

After the initial crisis: 

  • Standby for more information on ____________ (crisis). We are collecting the details and will post a statement as soon as possible. 
  • Urban Outfitters confirms _________________ (place crisis here). Responders are assisting with the situation now and will provide additional information when available. 

Apology:

  • We greatly apologize for _______. We take full accountability for the situation and are looking for the root cause. We will keep you all informed and update you as we receive any further information.

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