Is your organisation prepared for a crisis?
Many organisations confuse emergency response with crisis management. In short, emergency management is generally used to describe preparation and response to physical incidents that create a risk to life safety. A crisis however, is the negative repercussions of an incident affecting a company or organisation’s reputation and brand value. A crisis may arise due to an emergency or from another incident such as industrial action.
Here are seven key points every crisis plan should contain.
1. Identify what constitutes a crisis to your organisation, at what point action becomes necessary, and who is going to be entrusted to action the plan.
2. Develop an early warning system
This may be as simple as monitoring media channels such as radio, television and newspapers. However, social media channels should not be ignored. The level of monitoring will depend heavily upon the nature of your industry. It’s worth remembering, ‘fore-warned is fore-armed’.
3. Ensure there is a rapid response capability.
Those trusted to monitor media channels must have a clear and direct escalation channel when things go awry. Time is critical when responding to an incident. The first hour after an incident is referred to by many as the Golden Hour of crisis response. Time is crucial. Executives who struggle to make a decision because of insufficient data or uncertainty will put the organisation at a disadvantage. Action precedes clarity; to formulate a response quickly and start to control the agenda, decisions need to be made. Identification of stakeholders and modes of communication during the planning phase will streamline your crisis response.
4. Designate a senior executive as responsible for crisis preparedness.
As with many disciplines within an organisation, each component requires a ‘champion’ for that cause. Crisis management is no different.
5. Ensure sufficient resources are available for analysis of
vulnerabilities, development of trigger points and response strategies,
and crisis management training.
The only plan that works is the plan that people do. Training and exercises to test the plan and ensure knowledge of the plan exists with all those expected to enact the plan is crucial.
6. Empower executives entrusted with activating and enacting the
crisis response to be able to initiate response procedures without
following normal organisational approval processes.
A small delay can cause disproportionate harm to the organisation’s reputation. Time spent establishing contact with the CEO or other ‘decision makers’ may, in the eyes of the general public, make the difference between a timely response from a reputable organisation or create the appearance of an organisation that is ‘ducking for cover’.
7. Train for and practice the plan.
Test the plan with regular practice using desk-top exercises, role-play or scenario based training/exercises. This should challenge those entrusted to enact the crisis plan to make tough decisions and act quickly to control the agenda by not letting, rumour and innuendo, competitors, or the media define the situation.
Want to know more? Want some training exercises to test your staff on? Contact me via CAPACITY Building Emergency Management at firstname.lastname@example.org