Crisis Communication at ServiceMaster Brands
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Crisis Communication at ServiceMaster Brands

Crisis Communication at ServiceMaster Brands

We asked Dawn Kroger, Vice President of Marketing at ServiceMaster Brands, “What are the key parts of your crisis communication plan and how do you implement them?”

At ServiceMaster Brands, we have seven brands in our portfolio. While the businesses are unique, the way we handle a crisis is the same. Whether you work for an organization with an elevated risk of a crisis or a smaller business where that risk is minimal, creating a strategy for difficult situations is crucial.

When I started my career in communications, the first advice I received was this: “Tell it all, tell it fast, and tell the truth.” After more than 20 years in this line of work, it is still the mantra I follow. In a crisis, the communications job is to be that trusted resource. Being able to assume that responsibility starts by having a well-developed plan.

When building a crisis communication plan, it is important to run through a wide variety of potential crisis scenarios and determine how to best handle each. Our response to a vehicle accident at Two Men and a Truck will involve a different approach than a situation where a team member at ServiceMaster Clean has a health emergency during a job. Requiring varying levels of crisis response and preparing for a wide scope help determine what resources may be needed and what success looks like following the crisis.

Once a business has a crisis communication plan in place, it should be “exercised” regularly. Share the plan with people who have experience in managing crisis communication and make revisions. One of the best ways to practice crisis communication is by watching how crises are handled by other brands. Learn from how similar businesses communicate during a crisis and apply successful practices to your own plans. All of this preparation helps when a crisis arises.

Despite how well formulated your strategy is, anticipate that something will not go according to plan. It is futile to attempt to account for every possible situation; there are many external factors that are nearly impossible to prepare for. Think of it as having your road map and knowing where you are headed but accepting there may be unexpected detours along the way. When these detours arise, keep focused on where you are going. This mentality can be challenging in a crisis because high stress levels and emotions are involved. But remember, you wrote your crisis communication plan with a sound mind, and you can trust it. Avoid the urge to react out of emotion. Just stay the course.

One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is not having a plan or having a plan but letting it sit dormant until a crisis occurs. Crisis communication is important but not urgent until a crisis happens. Then it becomes urgent, and then it can be too late.

(ServiceMaster’s seven brands are ServiceMaster Restore, ServiceMaster Recovery Management, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Two Men and a Truck, Aftermath, and Indoor Science.)

Published: October 9th, 2023

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