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Crisis Management 101

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When an unexpected situation comes up in your organization, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Having a crisis management plan can help you to handle or even prevent any crisis that you may face.

Here are 5 ways to handle any crisis:

Divide and conquer. Get your staff involved by assigning specific roles to team members, such as designating a media representative and another to handle internal communication. When a crisis is not occurring, be sure to train your designated spokespersons so they’ll be ready to act accordingly when needed. Be sure to emphasize the need for them to work with others involved and to communicate consistently.

Be prepared. Make a plan that best suits your organization’s needs. Identify and assess your organization’s vulnerabilities, then take action to deal with them. Based on your vulnerabilities, develop a series of scenarios that anticipate the crises your organization may face. Evaluate realistically the probability that the worst case will happen and create key messages that you will want to impart in response to these possible scenarios. Be sure to review this plan regularly and share it with all members of your team.

Know who to call. In the event of a crisis, there are certain people who need to be notified. These may change with the type of crisis while others will remain constant, such as employees, customers, media outlets, and the community at large. Be sure to inform employees and your internal audience first. Anyone who works for your organization is likely to become a source, whether intentionally or not. Often community members will turn to employees for information. Be sure to caution employees to avoid gossip and to route any media contacts to your media relations department. Remember that rumors can create more damage to your brand’s reputation than the initial crisis.

As the crisis unfolds. Strive for a timely and consistent flow of information to both internal and external audiences. The organization should continue to function as normally as possible, leaving it to the crisis management team to contend with the crisis. Make changes in policies and strategies as needed to speed recovery from the effects of the crisis. Seek to reestablish the operation of the organization to the level it had before the crisis, or even better, as soon as possible.

Learn from the crisis experience. After the crisis is over, meet with your crisis management team to evaluate. Review the crisis’ causes, your responses and the outcomes. If necessary, make changes to the structure of the organization or the crisis management plan.

While things won’t always be smooth sailing for your business, you can be prepared for the storms of life. Making a crisis management plan will keep you ahead of any crisis your business may face.

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