Hatchett PR

creativity, culture, community

YIKES! Does Your Company Have A Crisis Management Plan?

With the popularity of social media and the blinding speed with which good and bad news travels, every company needs a crisis management plan.   Quick, decisive action is required in an emergency, and a well thought-out plan will help calm the situation and mitigate the damage. 

Not only do you need a comprehensive crisis plan, there should be assigned roles within the organization so that leaders, as well as all departments, know how and when to implement various contingencies within the plan and what’s expected of them.  Some crises require prompt action by management and some need an immediate response from public relations, most need both.

A crisis management plan should address responses to traditional emergencies that could crop up such as weather-related disasters, equipment failure, misconduct or scandal.  Recently I was working on a show that opened at a local theater and the week of opening we had an unexpected snowstorm in Atlanta!  We had to quickly work with the theater, ticketing organization and employees to create a plan of action, so I speak from experience.  

Your plan should list ways to use social media during a crisis situation, as well as procedures to deal with an emergency that develops in the social media space.  This new wrinkle is catching companies off guard because they have no idea about what to post on their Facebook or Twitter pages or how to effectively use their YouTube channel (or how to create a YouTube channel) to respond appropriately.  For instance, during the snowstorm, we sent out updates on Facebook and Twitter about road conditions, when the show was going on, and ways to exchange tickets.

There may be some crisis procedures which work well for many companies, but one size does not fit all.  Whether your company is a retail store, restaurant, theater or corporate office, your plan should be tailored to your industry and to your organization’s specific needs. The plan you devise today may keep your company from experiencing significant losses to your brand reputation as well as to your bottom line.

Here are a couple of links to stories with further information on this subject:

  • This well-written blog by Dallas Lawrence for Forbes outlines the lack of crisis plans by companies in regard to social media platforms.  One good point he makes is this, “Business leaders agree that the main thing preventing corporate use of social and digital media for reputation management and crisis communications is institutional lack of experience and knowledge of how to engage online in real time.”    http://onforb.es/pi5tzh
  • This older article by Peter Blackshaw at Ad Age is still relevant and has some great tips from the CDC’s solid crisis response to the Swine Flu epidemic in 2009.    http://bit.ly/qwRrMx

I had the good fortune to work with one of the area’s most respected crisis management experts, Charlie McDonald of Crisis Management International (CMI), a few years ago.  I learned the basics of crisis management from him.    If your company is need of guidance with their plan, I would highly recommend Charlie and CMI:  http://www.cmiatl.com/

*Crisis Management International is a global consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, which helps organizations prepare for and manage the unexpected by offering strategic crisis management planning and related consulting services. With its roots in the crisis response business, CMI has first-hand experience dealing with all types of crises including: 9/11 (200+ companies), Hurricane Katrina, workplace shootings, fires, earthquakes and reputation scandals.    



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