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.
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?
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.
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.