Plan for the unexpected

Unexpected events can hit your organisation at any time without warning. A crisis can negatively impact the entire organisation, its stakeholders and can cause long term reputational and financial damage.

The outcome of a crisis is not necessarily determined by the severity of the event, but by how you deal with it once it hits. Whilst the nature of a crisis can be uncertain, anticipating what to expect and having a plan to deal with it is critical. Key elements to developing a crisis management plan are outlined below:

  • Identify threats and major risks – define how they could affect your organisation / stakeholders and what actions could be implemented to return to ‘business as usual’
  • Create a crisis management team – define roles, responsibilities and possible external specialists
  • Determine your communication plan – identify key stakeholders, communication channels and key messages
  • Test the plan – create a number of different scenarios to test the effectiveness of your crisis management plan
  • Regularly review – ensure the crisis management plan remains relevant and learn from other organisations that have experienced similar events

Effective communication is crucial in successfully managing a crisis. Rebuild trust by being factual, transparent and truthful. Your organisation should also:

  • Act quickly – get ahead of it and issue an initial response immediately
  • Take responsibility – acknowledge the events that led to the crisis, no cover ups
  • Not claim that everything is ok – focus on the steps being taken to resolve the issues
  • Anticipate negative publicity – monitor media channels and proactively engage
  • Remain engaged – keep stakeholders updated as new information becomes available

Organisations with well-developed crisis management plans tend to recover quicker than those without. Do you have a plan for the unexpected?