Crisis management planning may be on the back burner – possibly where you keep your priority about advertising. You may say, “I don’t need a crisis management plan, I’ll just deal with it if it comes.” Or maybe you would love to develop a plan, yet don’t know where to start. I think I am able to provide you with that. To get started, let’s take a systematic view of planning.

In a 1997 article titled “Establishing Individual and Corporate Crisis Communication Standards” in Public Relations Quarterly by James Lukaszewski points out that the people most affected by the problem created by an organization will control the standards. The more severe the crisis, the more severe the standards required by victims, the public, the government and the media.

Lukaszewski poses, “What does the company wish to accomplish with crisis communication?” He stresses that it is essential in response to a crisis, the company must act conclusively, responsively and quickly – dealing with the most effected first. The company must respond to customers, employees and the community’s expectations of effective communication. For example, when responding to a problem the company must be open. Openness builds credibility. It is crucial in a crisis that your firm shows concern for victims. Additionally, your company must give respect to those affected, along with communicating sensitivity and compassion.

The websites below provide an additional perspective to the importance to crisis management planning.

A plan will serve your company, customers and employees well. The plan can be developed and put into action at minimum additional cost. The following crisis communications plan is a synthesis of steps from various sources.

  1. Permit selected representatives from your business to brainstorm potential crisis scenarios. This step ensures that all perspectives are covered.
  1. Select staff members to be in such positions as chairperson, media relations, community relations, government relations and operations/facilities representative.
  1. Your contingency plan must ensure service delivery and that the bottom line remains intact. In a 1999 article titled “Y2K Crisis Response” from Credit Union Management, Kristen Gilpatrick states, “The first principle of crisis management is the management team for day-to-day operations does not have to be the management team for the crisis. In fact, a big problem during crisis is everyone stops doing their job and works on the crisis, and then the business suffers.

It is also wise to have your attorney counsel the team. Your attorney is able to provide advice on possible liability issues concerning the plan. Many experts suggest that your spokesperson consult with your attorney to assure comments will not supply the media with information that could be used against your company in the future.


Final food for thought


In closing, I suggest your team develop a phone tree to spread out responsibility for contacting pertinent people. The addition of a crisis incident form for documenting how the crisis was initially handled could prove beneficial. Your team should concentrate on formulating three options and from there make a recommendation for dealing with each kind of crisis.

                                                                                                                        Steve Whitaker

Steve’s Light Bulb Moments LLC


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