THREE STEPS FOR EFFECTIVE CRISIS RESPONSE PLANNING
The events of 2020 have underscored how issues can arise from unforeseen and unanticipated sources. No matter the circumstances, no one wants their company at the center of a media firestorm. A crisis can emerge at any time, but few teams take the required steps to plan their crisis response in advance. Compare for example the difference in how major airlines, an industry hard hit by COVID-19, have handled their responses to the pandemic. Delta has received positive public response to their response while the media —and the flying public—have been less than complimentary to their competitors, United and American. A well-developed crisis plan can help secure an organization against the loss of trust among clients and stakeholders that can result in damage to reputation and profits.
Here are some basic steps to follow when developing a crisis response plan.
BE GROUNDED IN TRUTH
At FLM Harvest, our client work is grounded in truth, meaning we take the time to examine a situation and talk with key stakeholders before diving in. This same principle can apply to crisis management planning since identifying and assessing vulnerabilities and their potential risks are an essential step in preparing for them. Knowing where the weakest links in the chain exist and clearly identifying them prioritizes your efforts and helps ensure your management plan does what it is intended to do.
GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO THE TABLE
Once grounded in a deep understanding of potential risks and vulnerabilities, it is time to develop your crisis communications strategy. Start by identifying the shareholders who need to be at the table. These may include communications, HR, IT, legal, sales and business leaders. Consider bringing in outside experts, like an agency partner experienced in handling crises, to add valuable insight and facilitate planning. Once everyone is identified, develop a plan with the people who will enact it.
OPTIMIZE YOUR PLAN
A plan is just a strategy until put it into practice. Prepare to enact your crisis response plan with media training to simulate media interviews and tabletop drills to find gaps and ensure everyone knows their role. Take notes of what went well and what didn’t and use that information to optimize your plan. Rehearsing your plan will allow the opportunity to fix responses before a real crisis arises.
Don’t wait until your darkest hour to develop your crisis management plan. An optimized plan grounded in truth with buy-in from your crisis team will ensure that when crisis strikes your team is prepared to mitigate the risks.