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Cases | 31 March, 2020

What is Crisis Management?

It was only a matter of weeks ago that things were going smoothly.  Business was booming, supply chains were running fluently, and the stock market was at an all time high.

Lo and behold a virus that most Canadians thought would never affect them came sweeping into our nation and put a halt to our small businesses and daily life.

As a business owner I’ve been negatively affected like the rest of the Canadian economy.  Suitably, in this article I’ll discuss the three stages of Crisis Management to help you with managing your company during COVID-19, and to better prepare you for future crises.

1. Pre Crisis Arrangement

The first step to creating a blueprint for your Crisis Management response is in building a Pre Crisis arrangement.  Take a detailed assessment of every possible scenario that could create a crisis for your company.

There’s an abundance of situations that could pose as an emergency to your business, so it’s significant that your Pre Crisis arrangement includes a record of every possible Crisis your company could face.

Possible crises can include natural disasters, technological crises, confrontation, malevolence, organizational misdeeds, workplace violence, rumours, or terrorist attacks.

Create Individual Crisis Response Plans

Once you’ve identified all possible crises that could affect your business you’ll need to create a plan to deal with each individual emergency.

Remember, crises do happen rarely, but in the scenario that one does occur the Crisis Response Plan will essentially be your team’s strategy.

It’s essential that you build a diligent response plan that naturally includes your management and supervisors in leadership roles to help protect the rest of your organization.  Remember that not all crises are natural disasters, workplace violence, or terrorist attacks.

Often a crisis can be an organizational misdeed or a public rumour, which in case will require a crisis response plan that’s routed in a swift public relations response.

Public Relations Response Plan

There have been numerous cases of company’s underestimating the virality of social media when a crisis ensues.  It’s imperative that your Public Relations Response Plan in reaction to a crisis includes:

  1. Gathering facts quickly, and doing your best to get a reply from all parties involved.
  2. Understanding exactly what went wrong, and if your company is to blame.
  3. Keep in mind that whether the crisis was your company’s fault or not social media will be sure to magnify the situation.  Promptly take responsibility, and explain which measures you’re taking to never let it happen again.
  4. A swift Public Relations Response approved by upper management and your official spokesperson and then simultaneously released to the press through your website and social media platforms.

Identify Your Crisis Response and PR Response Team

Once you’ve identified your Crisis Response and PR Response team it’s essential to train them in their respective crisis response positions.

It’s best practice to review each Crisis Response Plan and Public Relations Response Plan with your team at least once every six months.

At a maximum of every three years your crisis response plan must be formally reviewed and altered if necessary.

2. Crisis Response

Depending on the nature of the crisis your response will be drastically different.  We’ve included a very general list of steps when managing a crisis:

  1. Stop and identify exactly what type of crisis you’re dealing with.
  2. Refer back to the Crisis Response Plan and delegate your Crisis Response Team to execute in their individual positions.
  3. Gather a detailed report on the status of your team’s well being, and ensure they’re all safe and out of harm’s way.
  4. Provide strong leadership throughout the crisis by clearly communicating to your team about the state of the situation.
  5. Resume all time sensitive operations in a safe environment .
  6. Immediately report any equipment or property damage to your insurance provider.  Begin the repair and restoration process.
  7. Resume all less time sensitive operations in a safe environment.

3. Post Crisis Response

Your team’s Post Crisis Response Plan needs to answer a few questions:

How effective was the Crisis Response Plan, and are there any areas that need to be revised?

Did you provide adequate training to your Crisis Response Team?  Did your Crisis Response Team perform adequately under pressure?

What is the morale of your organization during the post crisis period?

Once the Post Crisis Report is completed be sure to address your team with a conclusion to the crisis.  Recognize all key players in the crisis response that participated exceptionally.

We hope this information will be helpful to you and your team.  Stay safe, stay healthy.

Kevin Foreman

President, Black Sheep Business Consulting