What is a crisis? Internally, a crisis is an event or a series of events which threaten the organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Externally, a crisis is an event or a series of events which put your organization’s values on trial in the court of public opinion.
Realities of a crisis: Your values will be communicated and will under public scrutiny. Remember that what you say must be reinforced by your behavior. Important publics (employees, media, competitors, neighbors, family, critics) are paying attention to you. Be ready with good messaging.
Basics of a crisis: Ask “what do you want people to think about you?” That you care, are doing something, and will prevent recurrence. That you are accountable and will be part of the solution. Have a solid messaging strategy that includes a media policy, prepared messaging platform procedures, trained/tested spokespeople. Tip: When training spokespeople, practice with a series of Q&As that will prepare the spokesperson for the hardest questions imaginable. *Don’t train in the midst of a crisis! Crisis specifics make the news.
Tip: Journalists often put out calls for more information via social media. Be a part of the story; be prepared to answer those calls.
Initial statement: Don’t ignore the “window of opportunity.” Respond quickly. Your initial statement may be broad but make sure it is timely and be sure to address the key issues during this critical period. Tip: Don’t put the news media ahead of your own employees. They are your ambassadors and can help get the messaging out. Let your employees know what is going on. Tip: Organizations can be pulled into employee issues. If this happens, respond quickly.
Create a solid crisis communications plan that includes a mobile option allowing easy access to all. The mobile plan can be setup based on crisis levels vs. specific scenarios, i.e., Level 3 – Emergency event; Level 2 – Significate/threshold event; Level 1 – Major event. The plan should identify team members and their roles, current contact information, template statements, and social media passwords.
Crisis Management Best Practices:
- Risk assessments – identify scenarios; plans using levels
- Scheduled sessions to review plan
- Regular updates to plan – internal team, external stakeholders, media/influence lists, contacts, templates, mobile version
- Media/speaker training for primary spokespersons
Have tips you’d like to share? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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