Crisis planning is critical to the success of any organization. While most organizations hope they’ll never have to use their crisis plan, emerging threats and our ever-changing security landscape have made it crucial to prepare for any type of emergency. With 51 percent of organizations admitting to not having any type of crisis plan in place, many companies need to take a step back to consider the types of situations that could threaten their business and plan their response.
This is especially important for companies operating in regulated industries such as banking, financial services or healthcare. Those industries have additional audiences and complexities that require even more consideration and time to respond in a crisis situation. They must consider their internal compliance departments and policies, as well as external regulators.
Evaluate your risk and
preparedness with Highwire's
A good crisis plan will serve as a guide to navigating all matters of situations that could affect the profitability, integrity or reputation of your organization. Here are some of the key elements that go into crisis planning:
Timing is Everything
If an organization waits until a crisis hits to begin planning, much of the damage will already be done. I cannot stress how critical timing is when it comes to crisis management. When companies are caught off-guard, leaders are more likely to be reactive and impulsive versus sticking to a carefully considered plan.
Take the time to sit down and meticulously examine all the possible emergency situations and develop intentional messaging for them while you are calm and thinking rationally. When crises do happen, things can go wrong in a matter of seconds. Therefore, having this degree of proactive damage control sets the tone, ensures quality of message and allows for any potential de-escalation versus the issue spiraling out of control.
Prioritize Key Spokespeople and Stakeholders
When it comes to crisis management planning, identifying key spokespeople and stakeholders well in advance will enable the smoothest response possible.
Naming a spokesperson in advance of a crisis allows organizations to prepare and brief the individual that will be responsible for representing their company and accurately reflecting their brand. When choosing this spokesperson, consider who is the best fit for this role. For example, is it a brand image that calls for the CEO or was it a data security incident that would need the CIO’s attention? This spokesperson is tasked with upholding the credibility and brand image so allotting proper time to identify and prepare this spokesperson is critical to the success of the organization’s response.
Identifying all stakeholders and audiences in advance is key to a smooth response. An organization never wants to get to a point where they are ready to publicly respond but realize that the compliance or legal department never gave it the green light. Possible external audiences such as suppliers, customers, and clients, employees, investors and regulators also need to be accounted for. Pinpointing key audiences in advance will determine how an organization responds and the steps they take to mitigate the crisis.
Measurement and Assessment
A crisis can dramatically impact a company’s image and relationship with the media and consumers or other key stakeholders. When building out a crisis plan, it’s important to factor daily or hourly media and social media monitoring to determine how the company’s message is being received and then act on that information if the message needs to be clarified or refined further.
Developing a plan for post-crisis measurement also allows companies to examine how well their messages were communicated and ultimately what the impact of the crisis was. For example, a company may measure how consumer loyalty or brand preference has changed following the crisis. Having proper measurement plans in place will help inform the organization’s next steps following the event to reconnect with their key audiences.
At the end of the day, no company hopes that a crisis happens. That being said, our hyper-connected world is fraught with internal and external threats. These threats can be even more challenging to manage for those companies in regulated industries, but no matter the nature of the crisis or organization, the best thing you can do is be prepared. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.