How can an organization prepare in advance for a crisis?
In all of life we know that advance preparation makes reality far easier. No one would ever contemplate singing the National Anthem in front of thousands without practicing it. Over and over. And getting coaching.
Crisis survival and your business or organization’s future depend upon your work in advance of a disaster.
Our steps for crisis preparation.
- Audit for most probable crisis situations and vulnerabilities: from accidental business interruptions to product recalls to tragedy or HR issues in the workplace.
- Create a crisis communications plan: Make certain that your plan takes into consideration and lays out strategies and tactics covering the following critical items.
- Who will manage the crisis?
- How will the team respond?
- What will they communicate?
- When will they communicate it?
- Why will they communicate?
- Who will be the communicator?
- When will subject matter experts be used?
- When will outside auditors be used?
- Draft basic responses (and keep on the ‘shelf’) for each of the crisis situations. In every business or industry there are some highly likely situations. Make sure your plan considers and contemplates responses to those most common.
- Daycare example: Staff member abusing a child
- Restaurant: Food poisoning
- Data breach
- Establish a crisis communications team. There is no time in a crisis to figure out who is part of the team. Choose your team and make sure everyone is up to date with contact information for each member. Clarify where you’ll meet: online, in-person, at an ops center.
- Identify members and make sure they are aware they are part of the team
- Compile team contact information and make certain that all team members have this on hand and readily available
- Keep this updated (at least every 3 months)
- Establish a manner of communication; in person / face to face or remote (conference call and shared online document creation)
- Establish a location of gathering and ensuring all communications tools are present (from wifi to laptops, tablets, or if remote team members, creating permission based network accessible documents, ensuring conference calling / networking capacities are up to date and available)
- Outline roles for each member
- Make sure crisis communications team has bios/backgrounders on all company leaders and specifics
- Identify Subject Matter Experts who will assist the crisis communications team
- Drill. Firemen, police and EMTs drill. So should your firm. If you don’t practice, how will you know if your team is ready to manage a situation? How will you know if your carefully planned procedures will work? Don’t take this part for granted. Test it with a drill.
- Proactively provide information via the firm’s website about issues likely to be of concern in a crisis. Evidence makes the difference in the courtroom and in the courtroom of public opinion. If you have compliance requirements, demonstrate before a crisis situation that your firm had done all in it’s power to be in compliance and remain there. Having this information publically visible on your website helps develop trust and transparency. As examples:
- Daycare: Publish credentials and compliance information
- Restaurant: Publish inspection reports and staff who have completed Servsafe courses for example.
- Establish social media accounts on appropriate social media channels and monitor across all social media for firm, CEOs, and brand mentions
- Create Twitter / media lists and follow local / beat media likely to report on your industry
- Get to know (in person if appropriate) media most likely to report on a crisis in your industry. The media are doing their jobs. Not trying to trap you. If they know you and your firm in advance, they will not be strangers to you. Though don’t confuse getting to know them with trying to sway them. There is a huge difference. Understand that they have readers and viewers who want facts. And if they can’t get the facts, they will publish what people are talking about. And we all know that when people don’t have information they talk trash. Don’t let the media publish rumors and trash. Get them the facts when they ask.
- Have Google Alerts (real time) for your brand/leaders. Don’t let a crisis sneak up on you. Believe me, the media are monitoring media for stories and grumbles. If they are listening, you better be.
Does this feel like too much to do in advance of a crisis? If it does, call us. 843.628.6434. We can guide you through every step and allow you to sleep better knowing you’ve done your due diligence to prepare for a crisis situation.