There are 3 things every executive, business owner and employee needs to know about any crisis:
Crisis Fact # 1 – They usually don’t occur on a Tuesday afternoon in the summer when things are slow, all key personnel are available, and everyone has free time.
Crisis Fact # 2 – The crisis itself is often not what causes the most harm to an organization or an individual – the response is.
Crisis Fact # 3 – Results usually mirror preparation – a prepared organization suffers less collateral damage for a shorter period of time than an organization that is “learning as we go.”
Part I of this series addressed the first 5 steps to address when developing your organization’s Crisis Response Blueprint.
Here are 10 more things to consider… today:
Who is the voice of the organization? Is there more than one? How many lines of business is the company involved in?
Should it always be the CEO? (Answer – it depends) Who communicates internally? Externally? Who ensures that your business continues to operate even as the crisis develops?
2) Get your lists together
Media contacts? Adversaries? Advocates? Stakeholders? Who, outside of your organization, will speak positively about your organization in crisis? How about negatively? Who are the most crucial regulatory contacts? Trying to put these lists together in the midst of crisis never works.
3) What do you say?
Do you say anything before you know anything? Failing to respond, or saying “No Comment” says a lot more than no comment.
This is where preparedness training, drills and live simulations really help to prepare key executives and spokespersons for the real thing.
What if there are reports of injuries? How are you receiving information? There will be a lot of incoming requests for information – how will you reach out to stakeholders that are not yet beating down the doors?
4) Stop and breathe.
Practice putting yourself in a semi-stressful position through crisis response drills. Warning – this is absolutely not a substitute and not representative of what you will feel like in the middle of a crisis.
What it does do is prepare you to know how to breathe properly to control epinephrine and control your heart rate. I have a number of breathing techniques I favor
5) What does the filtration system look like?
In a crisis, there may be a number of parties who want answers and access public, victims, press, regulators, investors, elected officials – who filters each call and determines who answers; what are the answers for each?
6) Who is monitoring social and web media?
What is the process of answering questions and comments online? What does the strategy look like? Whose responsibility is this?
There are a number of excellent social media crisis communication professionals – having contact with one is never a bad idea.
7) Opposition Research
Every real political campaign not only researches the opponent, the campaign also researches its own candidate to determine what might “pop up” at the most inopportune time.
Do a comprehensive internal “opposition research” report on yourself – what else will come to light in the face of a crisis? What else should be on your radar screen? What are your answers?
The reality is that any negative information that has ever been identified, or may exist, about the organization and key executives is
Do not forget to communicate internally! This point is important enough to mention twice.
How you handle yourself during a crisis sends a strong message to employees, and a star employee who is a little rattled is a star employee who is looking.
Make sure your spokesperson(s) is trained and media ready – this is one area where on the job training never works! Being a spokesperson in the midst of a crisis is a brutal job to begin with – doing so with no preparation is not only unwise, it is unfair – and will hurt your organization.
10) Pay Attention to Borders
If you are a multi-national or do business abroad, how does a crisis abroad affect your business here? What are your answers? Who is doing the answering?
Recent corruption allegations against major multinationals that occurred thousands of miles from US borders still got a lot of media attention in the US.