When a crisis hits, the priority must always be public safety. Companies can only focus on repairing reputation and financial damage after the danger has passed. The way to do this is to have well-planned practices for crisis management in place.
A company that relies on a solid and well-trained communications team can respond to crises quickly and effectively. The right tools and strategies can help you prepare for any disaster.
As you develop your practices for crisis management plan, you must identify the stakeholders you must communicate with during a crisis. This may include internal and external audiences.
During a crisis, stakeholders want to know their needs are being met. Employees and their families, for example, want to be assured they are safe. Emergency and medical personnel need to understand that the organization supports them in their efforts during a crisis. Community leaders and elected officials want to be informed and must also express their concerns to the organization.
Regulators and auditors need to be kept in the loop, and they may have specific reporting requirements (such as a requirement to notify them within a particular timeframe of a product recall). Depending on the circumstances, you'll need to decide which groups should receive priority in communication. For example, during a food contamination crisis, your business customers may need to be informed first.
While no company can ever fully prepare for the impact of a disaster or avoid a crisis entirely, a well-designed plan by Ed Batts - Palo Alto, CA - Lawyer, can help mitigate the damage to stakeholders. The first steps include conducting a quick assessment of the situation, identifying which people on your team will be responsible for creating fact sheets and preparing communications for customers and the media.
A quick response is essential to help control the narrative and prevent inaccurate or hostile interpretations. Carney and Jorden (1993) suggest that silence can be just as damaging as a poor response because it allows others to control the story and may signal that the company has not taken full responsibility for the issue.
A website or mass notification system helps add to the information provided by news media. It provides a means for the company to present its story. A website also helps to keep stakeholders informed as the situation progresses.
A strong crisis management plan helps you respond quickly to incidents. It also makes it easier to determine which business priorities should be prioritized during a crisis, such as allowing for longer customer hold times or relaxing overtime policies.
Start by creating a list of high-probability risks and determine their potential impact. Then, create a policy to address each one. It should identify the action items, assign roles, and establish a timeline for each task. For example, prioritize team member safety, minimize the number of delayed sales, or protect your brand reputation during a crisis.
Identifying the metrics you want to track and keeping it simple to view them during a crisis is essential. You can also use a dashboard to monitor the high-level objectives you identified in your strategic planning session. This template lets you create an easy-to-read graphic view of your key performance indicators.
During a crisis, keeping your stakeholders updated with crucial information is essential and needs to be central to the practices for crisis management you develop. Communicate with them via email, newsletters, virtual meetings, and project summaries. This will help build trust between you and your stakeholders.
Recruit those capable of taking on definite tasks, such as creating an official statement or helping with media inquiries. Then, assign those people to a core team along with department contacts. Those who can't take on a role in the crisis response team should also be kept informed.
During a crisis, employees will want to know what's happening. The more transparent you are with your team members, the better. A 2020 Edelman study found that employees want to hear updates from their management multiple times daily. Make sure to foster open communication and nurture essential relationships during a crisis. This will help your company survive a crisis and thrive afterward. Your employees will thank you for it.