Whether you’re in politics or business, crises are inevitable. That’s just a fact. Accidents and terrible situations are going to occur, but how you handle said situations could not be more crucial.

In politics, it’s common practice for campaign managers to have a plan in place just in case their candidate’s skeletons do decide to walk out of the closet. It enables them to react quickly. Businesses—big or small—also need this ability. However, we’ve discovered that this is often NOT the case. Corporations tend to cower and deliberate about what they should do for days, letting a story get worse or allowing their competitor to capitalize on their mistakes, when they should have been seizing the opportunity to pivot and create positive attention. But that’s a whole different blog. You can learn about what corporations should learn from political campaigns here.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in a crisis? Well, here’s what you should do: respond quickly, effectively, efficiently and in a sincere manner. Or you can follow the Push Digital 3 Step System:

  1. Tell it all.
  2. Tell it fast.
  3. Tell the truth.

Believe it or not, following those 3 simple steps is more difficult than you would think. However, thanks to our work with larger corporations and our combined 50+ years of campaign experience, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of dos and please-whatever-you-do-don’t-do-thats.

Here are 11 things we’ve learned to do and not to do:

1. OWN IT AND APOLOGIZE
Time is crucial, so respond quickly and admit the mistake. Then proceed to apologize, again and again….and again. Be sincere and simple in apologizing even if the absolute truth is more complicated and blame isn’t singular.

2. DO THE RIGHT THING
Fix it fast. Make sure your audience knows how you plan to fix it and the timeline for completing. Being open and transparent here could not be more important. Don’t fake it till you make it because the internet trolls will know.

3. MOVE ON
Look for a pivot point to stop focusing on the problem and quickly get to the solution or back to business. The mistake happened, you owned up to it, and hopefully you’ve fixed it. The media storm will blow over, eventually.

4. REBUILD THE BRAND
Look for opportunities to prove you’ve corrected the crisis and reinforce your brand principles. Reward customer loyalty and give new customers a reason to do business.

5. KNOW THE BATTLEFIELD
The Internet is and will always be the battlefield. Every single day until forever. Things don’t just go away.

6. KNOW AND LABEL THE OPPONENT
Sometimes the real enemy isn’t clear to you or to the public. Make sure you know who you are fighting.

7. GET ALL THE FACTS
Don’t let one side get out their story on every news channel and be shared a million times without getting your side in the story. The Internet doesn’t wait for anyone.

8. TALK TO ATTORNEYS (SPARINGLY)
Attorneys are important to keep you out of jail, but they can also gum up the system and make it impossible for you to respond quick enough.

9. DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. BUT DO FEED THE BEAST.
You won’t make Internet trolls happy no matter how many questions you answer. The Internet demands content. More content. Fast contents. Lots and lots of content. Define yourself or someone else will.

10. MEASURE. ALWAYS. ALWAYS MEASURE.
Don’t go in blind. While you must respond quickly, get a poll in the field as fast as you can and base your decisions on real numbers.Then poll again. And again. Constantly measure online sentiment.

11. HAVE YOUR CRISIS TEAM IN PLACE BEFORE A CRISIS HAPPENS.
Because you aren’t going to have time once the shit hits the fan. Don’t put too many cooks in the kitchen. The team must be small enough to move quickly and efficiently.

Over the next several weeks we’re going to pick apart all of these dos and do nots. This is going to be quality material.