They’ve done it. Your company has finally made that investment in crisis management planning. You’re one of the point people tasked with creating a crisis management plan.
You’ve done your homework, carefully outlining your objectives and undertaking a vulnerability audit. Now it’s time to put pen to paper on the plan itself. Struck with writer’s block, not sure where to start? We’ve all been there. So we’re here to help with the six crisis management planning essentials.
1. Put together the team. For your core crisis management team, you’ll need C-suite (maybe even board) representation, as well as senior managers from the company’s most important business units: Finance, HR, Operations, IT, Risk, Communications, Legal – not to mention dedicated (on-staff) Crisis Managers. A word of caution: avoid bloating this core team. When crisis strikes, large teams quickly become unwieldy.
2. Set activation guidelines. You won’t trigger your crisis management team to deal with just any old issue. But how do you define a crisis that requires Crisis Management intervention? Document all the criteria and indicators you’ll use to determine whether a crisis has actually occurred. An active shooter or data breach case might be relatively straightforward to diagnose, but what about a more ambiguous reputational crisis
3. Compile contact lists. When planning for crisis, ensure that your crisis management team has critical information (including emergency contacts,) not just for your employees but also for other relevant stakeholders. Procuring an information management system that syncs with your existing people management system, where that kind of information is traditionally stored, will make this task exponentially easier.
4. Create a crisis communication plan. Crisis communication faux-pas too often sink crisis response. Develop a crisis communications playbook as part of your larger crisis management plan. Here’s what it should include:
- A set of pre-fab messages (including press releases) based on likely crisis scenarios.
- Designated company spokesperson (usually the CEO) to serve as the face and voice of the crisis response.
- Instructions for regular media trainings for that spokesperson.
- A strategy for crisis response on your social channels – procuring an integrated social media monitoring platform as part of your crisis management suite of tools will help mightily in this specific regard.
5. Include other action plans in your master plan. Come up with a series of individual playbooks (or action plans) for the specific crisis scenarios you outlined in your risk assessment. Like the larger plan, these shorter (scenario-specific) playbooks will be flexible, responsive modules.
A note: also ensure that all of these plans, as well as other documents and policies, are always at your fingertips, particularly during a crisis. Preferably, they’ll all be easily accessible in a mobile-friendly crisis management solution.
6. Train your team. Test your plan. Run your team through crisis simulations, so that they’re comfortable performing the tasks assigned to them. This way you’ll identify flaws in your planning and approach.
When providing prompts to these exercises, make sure to empower your team to tweak the plan as the situation warrants. This is in fact one of your central training goals: appreciating when and how to go off script to get through any manner of disaster. If your team does deviate from the plan during training, have them document what they’ve done, why they’ve done it, and the results of doing so. Those findings will be incorporated into the latest edition of the plan.
Looking to take your crisis management preparations to the next level? Download our complimentary Guide to Crisis Management Planning:
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