When an event threatens the viability or integrity of an organization, you’re dealing with a crisis. Unforeseen events such as a tornado, a data breach or a business-related accident can undermine the viability of even a prosperous, thriving operation. Are you ready to manage a crisis?
A crisis communications plan can act as a guide to help quickly contain a volatile situation and recover from its impact. Whether it’s a weather disaster, a product safety issue, or personal on-the-job tragedy, reaction needs to be immediate and focused. A plan needs to be in place ahead of time so you can act quickly to minimize potential damage.
Regardless of the size of a business or organization, crisis is a test for any management team.
Sharing information with stakeholders during any event that might have an impact on the business, its customers, or the local community is critical.
In most cases, crisis management is a collaboration between different managers. For example, one department might address the media while another does what’s necessary to keep business operations going, while another communicates with customers and the community.
Providing information to engaged parties can decrease the risk of a manageable issue becoming a major event. An effective leader will keep stakeholders in the loop and not manage in a vacuum. You have expert help on your management team. Strive to delegate, communicate, and resolve.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Is it really a crisis? A good communications plan defines the situation. Not every blip is a crisis. Create protocols that define when managers are contacted, and when it can wait until regular business hours.
- Who are your stakeholders? Your business activities may have a far-reaching impact on many people and companies. Develop a plan that includes a list of who needs to be brought into the loop quickly. Employees and their families, vendors, the local community, customers, government leaders, regulators and the media are a few to keep in mind.
- What information do stakeholders need?Customers need certain information and the press another kind, while regulators or elected officials may need completely different information. Design communications ahead of time to react quickly.
A good crisis plan will contain previously developed messages for each group on your list, providing the basics: what the crisis is, the company’s response, the anticipated impact on the company, how it will be resolved, and regular updates as needed. Messages should be targeted to each group, providing answers to their specific questions.
Crisis can happen to anyone and can change your life or your company’s future. A reputation that’s taken years or even decades to build can be ruined in short order. Start planning today. We’ll help you get started. Don’t discover too late that failing to plan means planning to fail.