This is part 6 of an 11 part series.

KNOW AND LABEL THE OPPONENT

Time, money, communication… this Crisis Communications “Do” gives us yet another bullet to add to our list of differences between political campaigns and corporations: The Opponent.

In politics, it could not be any clearer who your opponent is. After all, your opponent is perhaps the exact reason why you’re running for public office. When you’re putting together a kick-ass platform, a good campaign manager—heck, even a crappy campaign manager—can rattle off your opponent’s platform at the blink of an eye. Otherwise, how else are you going to persuade the people that you are the obvious and only choice at the polls? You either know your opponent like the back of your hand… or you lose. It’s that simple.

In business, however, you have tons of opponents, which means the real enemy isn’t always clear. Is it your nearest or direct competitor? Is it a town council? Is it the radical activist who spread a false story? During a crisis, make sure you know who you’re fighting.

Similar to our Crisis = Opportunity blog, you can also turn your opponents into opportunities. Here’s how:

1. Define them. Who is your opposing force? If you don’t know who they are, then you can’t beat them. If your opponent is in the same industry, then they must have a similar weakness. So exploit it.

2. Understand them. Study their strategy, because what’s working for them will most likely work for you. A super cute puppy video with proceeds going to charity? Done. Just use kittens.

3. Set the agenda. If you’re in a crisis, you be the one to control the narrative, not your opponents. A game of telephone without your input is brand reputation suicide, so act quickly while being honest and transparent.

4. Expose them. When the opposition gives you lemons… squeeze it into their eyes. If your opponent is the reason you’re in a crisis, great. Tell the world and become an underdog! Everyone loves an underdog.

5. Learn from them. Whether you’re in a crisis or preparing for one, learn from your opponent’s past. Crises happen to everyone, so learn from their crisis mistakes so you don’t have to make your own.