There is a difference between a crisis and an emergency. Knowing when an emergency crosses over into a crisis and when you need to act immediately is the key. For example, an emergency is a small fire that is quickly contained without injury or property damage. A crisis is when that fire is not contained and destroys the property and causes injury.
A crisis is when an adverse incident or a series of events have the potential to seriously damage your organization’s people, operations or reputation.
To avoid the negative impact, prepare for the unexpected:
- Plan: Identify what can disrupt the organization, event or place.
- Test: A tested plan is a workable plan.
- Pre-authorize: Know ahead of time who is approved to do what.
- Take action: Effective responses are incremental in nature.
- Behave well: Overwhelm bad news with common sense.
- Act humanely: Make sound business decisions and implement them humanely.
- Personalize: Deal appropriately with those directly and indirectly affected.
You know the worst-case scenarios that can plague your business or industry. What are the five to seven most awful examples you can think of that keep you up at night? Use those examples as a starting point to begin thinking about how your would respond.
Do you have a crisis communication team identified to help craft the messages, handle the inquiries from associates, the media, clients and investors, and know how to manage the situation? A team should include you–the business owner, a lawyers, communication professionals and senior managers.
By planning and implementing the communications strategy, knowing who is doing what, and keeping a calm demeanor, a crisis does not have to take over.
When a crisis occurs, admit it. Do not pretend that it will simply disappear if you do not discuss it. It is best to response quickly and as directly as possible. Engage the press as a potential ally. Answer reporters’ questions as openly as possible. Do not use “no comment” as a shield. It makes you look guilty. If a reporters requests additional information, provide it. A response to a crisis can be more devastating than the crisis itself. In the event of a crisis, people expect and deserve:
- An explanation
- A commitment to address the issue
- An expression of regret
- Consultation with others to help solve the problem
- Higher standards of performance
In most situations, a crisis can feel like a flood of worst-case scenarios. If handled properly, a crisis could actually strengthen your company and help position it in a more favorable light.
Is your company ready for its next crisis?
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