Whether you call it a disaster plan or a crisis plan, every company and organization needs to have detailed plans in place on how to respond to a worst-case scenario. This should be a team effort, not the product of one individual. Here are some tips for handling the nightmare situations you hope never occur.
Create a Team:
This is the very first step. Whether creating a team is to develop a plan from its inception or to manage a crisis when it occurs, it should involve multiple people with a firm grasp of their individual responsibilities.
Effective crisis management means having a plan in place before the crisis actually occurs. For example, Pittsburgh is ranked as one of the worst cities in the country for car accidents. Developing a “what-if” plan there might involve including the name of a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer.
Write it Down:
Every detail should be spelled out. While there might be more extensive information for crisis team managers, every employee should be familiar with the plan, including having a copy of what they need to do…or not to do. Along with writing it down is remembering to update it as employee information and technology change.
There are internal and external components to consider. Communication lines to inform employees of what to do and where to go need to be clearly established. However, companies and organizations also have to know how they will manage the story that goes out to the public. For example, many school systems establish protocols that allow only a district public information officer or a building administrator to communicate to the media. Effective communication sometimes also means controlling what and when information is released.
Be Honest and Open:
In an age when everyone has a phone to record events and information can quickly go viral via the internet and social media, it’s important to be as candid as possible in handling any sort of crisis that has the potential to become a public relations nightmare. First and foremost, keep your own employees informed. Be proactive with social media by frequently updating whatever services you use.
Assess and Train:
Your plan needs constant re-evaluation to be effective. Once a crisis is past, the team should assess what happened and any changes that need to be made as a result. In the wake of a crisis and as new employees come on board, it’s important to conduct training and drills to everyone remains up to date on how to respond.
Having an effective crisis management plan in place can mean the difference between your company recovering from a reputation-damaging event such as an oil spill or a criminal investigation and sustaining a blow that affects your bottom line for years to come.