In an earlier article the discussion focused on the importance of convincing senior management about the need for crisis management and communications.  The two go hand-in-hand and must stay together.

Crisis management deals with identifying those events that could occur that would likely cause a company to shutter its doors and/or have a long-lasting and negative effect on its stock price, revenues, etc. 

Crisis communications is that arm of crisis management in place to manage how the company responds to such an incident should it occur.  Its primary mission is to negate or reduce the effects of the crisis.

Having a Crisis Plan

The critical piece of putting such a plan together is identifying those incidents that could occur which would result in the company going out of business or which would have serious and long-lasting economic effects.  The odds of any of these possible scenarios occurring should not be a factor It’s the potential consequence that’s important. 

Once these possibilities have been identified, prioritize them according to likelihood.  Use whatever sources are available to assist. In some cases, one would simply have to use best guesses and common sense.  From this list, focus on the top three possibilities and begin drafting a crisis management and communications plan.

Crisis Management

Go through each of the top three areas that were identified and determine what, if anything, might be done to minimize the possibility of them occurring.  For example, if an active shooter was identified and the company has a reception desk at the front, could an armed security guard replace the receptionist?

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After considering different possibilities to decrease the threat in any of the areas identified, determine what the additional cost, if any, might be to exercise those options.  Discuss the pros and cons. Make a recommendation supported by the findings and backed up by any other information gleaned from research.

Crisis Communications

There are numerous parts to a crisis communications plan.  It begins with determining who’s responsible for what. In beginning to draft a plan, it’s critical to identify who the lead spokesperson would be in a crisis. 

How To Choose

The selection of a lead spokesperson will depend on the severity of the crisis.  Let’s define crises as “major” and “other.” A major crisis is one that was identified above, one that could shut down the company or critically affect its revenue.  “Other” could be something like a warehouse fire or fatal accident involving an employee.

In a “major” crisis, it’s almost imperative that the CEO be the spokesperson.  A company’s major public relations, ranging from customers, vendors, suppliers, shareholders, government officials, and employees need to hear from the person in charge.  They want to be assured that the matter at hand is under control and have confidence going forward.

However, the CEO may not always be available so a second lead person must be identified in the plan.  If the company is publicly traded, a good stand-in could be the board chair. He/she would be perceived as carrying as much authority as the company CEO.

Discover more from Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian’s Professional Profile on Muck Rack
GuideStar Profile for Ronn Torossian Foundation
Ronn Torossian’s Articles on Entrepreneur
Ronn Torossian’s Blog Posts on Times of Israel
Ronn Torossian on SoundCloud

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.