You should hope it never happens to your organization, but unfortunately, a crisis can strike any company at any time.
But if your business suddenly became embroiled in a crisis, would you be prepared to handle it? If you were putting out fires, or a major conflagration, and you didn’t have a crisis management plan in place, how would you respond?
Crises can take many forms, like the death of an owner, one of your products causing death or injury, or if historic flooding suddenly inundates your town, forcing you to cease operations.
To prepare and ensure resiliency, you should think about how a disaster would affect your operations, clients, suppliers, employees and the value and goodwill you’ve built up over the years. And you need to put together a plan for communications during this time.
In a recent article, Inc. magazine recommended the following crisis management steps every company should have in place:
- Have a plan – Put in place clear objectives that you would want to pursue during a crisis. Objectives should include protecting human life, ensuring that the organization survives and that your stakeholders (clients, suppliers, employees, the public) are kept informed. Include specific actions that you would take in a crisis.
- Different responses to different crises – Have plans in place for various crises that could strike your organization.
If it’s the sudden loss of a key employee or owner, you should prearrange a succession plan and transfers of responsibility.
If it’s a natural disaster that disrupts operations, have plans in place to ensure that you can continue operating, such as arranging for alternate suppliers, or arranging for an alternative location if you are unable to function in your current facilities.
- Be transparent – Being as open and transparent as possible can help stop rumors and head off any negative fallout among the public and media. You can do this by reaching out to the media with press releases and interviews, as well as on social media.
- Keep employees informed – It’s extremely important that you keep your employees informed, to keep morale up and so that they can help you keep your operations afloat. This also stops the rumor mill from circulating out of control.
- Reach out to clients and suppliers – Head off any misunderstandings by communicating with your customers and suppliers before they learn it from another source. Keep them informed of what’s happened, how it has affected your operations and how it might affect them during this period.
- Update early and often – Thanks to smartphones and the Internet, we now live in a 24-hour news cycle. That means you should make updates regularly and as needed, in order to keep all stakeholders informed.
Do it now
You should create your crisis management plan when your business is running smoothly and you have time to devote to thinking out a successful strategy.
This also gives you a chance to involve key employees in the process and open it up for brainstorming on how you would handle different crises.
You may want to include in this process advice and input from
- Members of your leadership team
- Communications experts