It’s about being prepared
When a crisis is hot, stakeholders want information. It doesn’t matter if your main office is sitting under 10 feet of water, people are going to expect responses both on the phone and through Twitter, and they will count on an explanation being posted to your blog and Facebook wall in a matter of hours at most, with a full resolution coming not long after. Check out this quote, from a SoCal Professional article by Cindy Rakowitz:
What happens when there is a natural disaster? There are injuries, there are hundreds missing and the city is in shambles.
As a business leader, you have to disseminate information immediately. The messages must be succinct and cohesive for multiple constituents to understand and respond quickly. This is why individuals and organizations should make crisis planning a priority. Emergencies are not only limited to physical disasters. Rapid response is also required for crises such as civil disorders, labor unrest, criminal charges, death, illness, system failure, scandals, indictments, convictions, lawsuits, hostile takeovers and bankruptcy.
As the quote explains, there are a myriad of factors which can throw your organization into crisis, and all of them will require high-speed communication from you. If you’re not prepared and ready to respond immediately when a crisis breaks, you’re taking unnecessary reputation damage, largely due to the fact that items can now enter the news cycle almost instantly, or skip the traditional route altogether and snowball into a monster situation on Twitter or other social media platforms in a matter of minutes.
Plan for what you can expect, and do your best to prepare for what you can’t. Add to this crisis simulations and media training sessions meant to locate and plug any gaps in your planning, and when it comes time for crisis response, your reputation, and your bottom line, will thank you.
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training, and co-host of The Crisis Show. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]