3 Steps to Handling a Sudden Crisis
It happens without warning – something tragic that puts the lives of loved ones at risk and ignites our collective fears of the unthinkable horrors of life. In a thundering heartbeat, a crisis awakens a company from its day-to-day duties into a hive of activity, concern, and fear.
At Ammerman, we stand to make sure that no company is unprepared for a situation like this. With this short guide and our help, you can be prepared for a crisis.
Know Your Audiences
The very first decision you need to make in a crisis is to identify your audiences. Which groups are impacted by this crisis, and what do they have at stake? The quick drill would be to make a list, ordering those impacted the most by the situation. Everyone is more important than your shareholders, and your focus needs to be on the real human concerns. If you are taking care of those most impacted and show compassion and concern, you have a better chance of protecting your stock prices.
Communicate What You Know
Being busy during a crisis or its aftermath is never a reason to be silent. People are impacted by a crisis; that’s what makes it a crisis. Your priority needs to be communicating as much as possible and as quickly as you can. Write these truths in your heart:
- It is your responsibility to establish truth and trust with your audience immediately. Trust will be established by the speed and transparency in which you approach the podium for the first time.
- Set expectations for communications. Tell them what you know now, what you hope to know at the next communication, and establish a time for when that will be.
- Remember, their biggest worry is the lack of control others have over the situation. You can be a friend or foe in this time by sharing or hoarding information. When there is a group of people waiting for information, they are being affected emotionally. You must communicate to relieve their fears, or they will retaliate with negative media attention toward your company.
Pick the Right Channels
Families of your employees shouldn’t learn about the welfare of their loved ones on the evening news. You must establish the right channels of communication for each of your audiences. For example, families of those impacted may need a “channel” set up, such as a furnished conference room or dedicated internal spokesperson. This way, their needs are heard and they are taken care of. Some companies we know have a care and compassion team that is activated for these situations with the sole purpose of caring for those deeply impacted.
The general public could learn about the incident during the press announcements, along with the other stakeholders. Knowing that you have channels set up for the right audiences will allow you to be focused and accurate with each audience at the right times.
How Do You Prepare for a Crisis Like This?
Many of the internal problems in crisis situations come from a lack of preparation. Companies wait until a crisis arises to start to put together a plan of action, and by then it’s too late to be organized. No one wants to be called into the boardroom and handed a crisis unprepared. We’ve helped companies in two major ways with their preparation.
Create predetermined messages that can be delivered at a moment’s notice. This is something we help our clients do frequently. This allows you to create messaging when not in a panic and more important, allows your legal department to sign off on phrasing ahead of time which speeds up the communication process.
Create a few mock scenarios. Have your team determine how you would react, and what you would say to the stakeholders in those times. This exercise can help you create real clarity and preparedness for the days to come.
Are you prepared?
Is your company ready for the next factory explosion, gunman, or worse? It only takes a phone call to us to setup a training session. We can get your communications team ready for the next crisis – even though we hope it never happens. Don’t wait – prepare your team before it’s too late. Contact us at 800.866.2026.