Today, news spreads at warp speed – we are living in an era where every person with a social media account is a journalist, news photographer, commentator, critic and publisher.
Respond inappropriately, and a reputation created over decades, can be destroyed in seconds. Get it right and your reputation will be preserved, maybe even enhanced.
How do you get it right?
- First : Assess your risks, develop a response plan, make sure you have the right team, drill them on the plan,
- Second: deal with the crisis as a team, respond quickly, monitor and keep ahead of the story,
- Third: Follow words with actions, debrief, reassess and update your plan!
Preparing for a crisis is a never-ending process. Business and the landscape we operate in is constantly evolving. So are the crises, and so are our responses.
With good advice and a properly prepared crisis management plan, you can stay calm, follow the process and come out the other side with your reputation intact. The protocols we put in place for clients allow them to respond with agility, alacrity and an element of calm. While crises cannot be planned, crisis management can be.
Hallmarks of a Successful Crisis Management Plan
* Management support. All individuals responsible for executing the plan should be involved in its preparation. Your plan will not be successful unless it is generated specifically for your business and its challenges, with input, buy-in and endorsement from the whole team, especially senior management. The genesis of the plan must include senior management and specifically the CEO, who should sign off on it.
* Defined purpose and roles. Will your plan be a blueprint for crisis preparation or the steps to take when a crisis occurs; will it cover all crisis management or crisis communication only? Know what you’re formulating so that your plan is focused on the outcome you require. Appoint and train a Crisis Management Team.
* Wide-ranging risk assessment. Work with potential scenarios – from the general to the specific, from the obvious to the less likely – that could put your operations and reputation at risk. Decide upfront how you will react to each.
* Aligned with your other risk protocols? Ensure that your proposed plan relates to protocols already in existence such as emergency response procedures.
* Practise. If you don’t test your plan you won’t know if it will work. Drill your team, iron out the wrinkles, and they will be confident when deploying it in a real-life situation.
A good crisis management plan and a team of people who are confident in their roles when a crisis hits is not a guarantee of success, but it is your best chance of safe-guarding your reputation, and possibly even gaining trust and respect for your brand.
In the words of Warren Buffett: “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”.