Biz Smarts: How to Keep Your Crisis from Turning Into a Catastrophe

From a business perspective, you should never let a crisis go to waste. While it may sound counterintuitive, a crisis is an opportunity to show who you really are – as a person, as a business or a brand. Not every crisis will end on a positive note, but you never want to waste a chance to learn, grow or improve your organization, culture, people, products and services.

When it comes to crises, it’s never about whether or not you’re going to have one, but rather when it will strike. Most companies either ignore the crisis altogether or fail to adequately plan and manage events. So when a crisis hits, the company flounders and brand reputation and market share are negatively affected. For those of you who want to be better prepared, here are 10 tips to get you started.


1. Chain of Command

Have an established chain of command and follow it. During a crisis, it might not be the CEO who needs to be calling all of the shots.

2. Crisis Team Contact List

Maintain a list of key contacts on your phone. Create group texts in a tiered format as you probably don’t need 15 people involved as a crisis unfolds.

3. War Room

Create a war room that is centralized and private. Also, have a video-conference line prepared so that if your team is positioned across the region or the world, the crisis team can gather immediately with the ability to collaborate face-to-face (via video) in real time. Lastly, be sure to have a predetermined cloud-based collaboration space for documents, images, etc. Slack or Google docs are two options.

4. Identify a Spokesperson

You need to have a primary, secondary and tertiary spokesperson – all media-trained and prepared to be on camera at any given time. Why three? Because a crisis can hit any time, like when your primary spokesperson is on vacation in Fiji!

5. Landing Page/Digital Preparation

Have a hidden, dedicated landing page with key information that the media will need and that team members can access and fill out with details pertaining to the crisis.

6. Media Accessibility

Be accessible and responsive to the media. “Not available for comment” may only work once.

7. Nurture Media Relationships

Do this before you need help. Don’t try to “butter up” the media in the midst of a crisis.

8. Key Message Points

Keep your response to the communication to three key message points; know your subject and your position so that you don’t come off as defensive.

9. Facts Only

Don’t speculate or give a personal opinion.

10. Tell the Truth

Nothing gets you back in a negative spotlight faster than being caught in a lie.

The key to surviving any crisis is being prepared. So, know your plan, your people and your story. If you’re not telling your story, someone else will be. By following these guidelines you just might turn that crisis into an opportunity.


Originally published in Sacramento Business Journal  – May 18, 2018, 2:30 pm PDT
© 2018 American City Business Journals

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