TOP TEN TIPS ON CRISIS MANAGEMENT
1. Plan. Have a Crisis Plan and have an Incident Plan. Ensure that all relevant parties in your business know the difference. If you haven’t got a Plan, then set about making one, or engage a company who can support you with their own Plans.
2. Risk. Consider how these Plans link into your Risk Management – risk assessments; financial security of third parties; insurance – and ensure that your business is minimising its risk.
3. Practice. Carry out regular ‘dry runs’. Make note of your learnings. Update your Plan. Keep it simple. Keep it relevant. Keep it alive in your business.
4. Media. High consideration must be given to media. Ensure there is absolute clarity regarding who in your business handles media. Be honest, be factual and be fast in communicating with media. Do not underestimate the damage that poor handling of media can cause to your business in the short, medium or long term.
5. Be there. In the face of a major crisis, it is important that key people in your business get to the place of the crisis as quickly as possible. This will be a team of people who will be the face of your company.
6. Trauma. Consider how you and your team will deal with trauma. Not just the on-site team, but the team in the office who may be handling calls from very distressed relatives.
7. Structure. Consider the organisational structure of your office and your Team. Assign key roles and responsibilities to relevant and responsible people. All roles must be clearly but simply documented in your Crisis Plan.
8. Contact information. A hierarchical list of people who must be called will form part of your Plan. It is imperative that contact information remains up to date. Put someone in charge of doing this.
9. Incident room. Recording every element and keeping track of all important information is essential. Consideration will need to be given to the channels of information available to you (e.g. satellite, internet etc), the way you will communicate with your teams, and how you disseminate information to everyone supporting the crisis situation.
10. Call handling. This is critical to the success – or failure – of how your business handles crisis. Consider communication with those who need to know (such as relatives, colleagues and business partners) and those who want to know (such as media). Don’t underestimate the call volume that can be generated just from ‘nosey neighbours’!
In an increasingly unstable world, a Crisis Plan should be an essential part of your standard operating procedure.
Ensure you, and the agency you work with, are fit for purpose.