As you prepare for this necessary step, please remember that there are many types of crises that can happen to you or your business. That means that one checklist won’t suffice. But if you put together a few with different levels of responses and reactions, then schedule time to review and update in the future, you’ll be ahead of the game when and if a crisis strikes that impacts what you do.
You Need a Plan Because …
You can start dealing with the crisis immediately, no need to formulate a plan. In many crises faced by organizations and people today, delayed responses can substantially add to the problem. When people know what they are responsible for, they can start working immediately on solutions and responses.
Get Started Now
You know your business, what types of problems could happen? That’s the first thing you need to decide. Could you have too many orders and your supplies get delayed? Could it be a bad review and rant on social media? Could something crash and burn with lives on the line? Could one of your people say something that gets them in hot water with the public? Even though it’s nothing about your company, that person is connected, and you get pulled into the mix. These are all possibilities for some businesses. What are yours?
Set up a checklist for each of the crises you feel are possible. Next, you’ll need to decide the various steps to be taken and the order to do them. All of this will work best in a group discussion setting, especially since many in the discussion will be the people assigned to deal with the steps needed. Don’t overload one person, share the tasks among your people.
Now, will any of these tasks require training? One job will likely be a spokesperson, which may be the CEO or someone else. But whoever has that task, should get training on how to react and what things they can and cannot say. That training should be ongoing so skills can stay sharp.
Other possible assignments could include internal communications, safety issues, overall person in charge to delegate tasks as needed after a crisis hits, and someone keeping tabs on what is happening in the news, with the public, on social media, etc. — even before any crisis happens.
Create a Flowchart
Yes, this will help everyone quickly identify what they need to do, who to report to, and who reports to them. It will also remind people when something may need approval before they take action. Create a phone list — or tree if many people need to be notified. The list should include media sources to be contacted, social media sites for responses, and anyone else you believe may need to be called at some point in the process. Having quick access to contact information may seem like a small thing, but when minutes matter, quick access is what you want.
One other thing that you should consider — put together a list of pre-approved statements and responses to questions from the media and the public.
All lists, assignments, training, and otherwise that may be needed should be reviewed regularly. Most lists should be checked every 3–6 months. If someone leaves the company, any tasks assigned to them need to be reassigned, and any training that will be needed should be arranged.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.