For those who celebrate Easter you know it’s almost here, that holiest of religious holidays. It’s also a time of crisis for the Catholic Church as the sex abuse scandal rears its ugly head again and now threatens to bring down the Holy Father himself. I won’t get into that ball of wax. What this crisis and those of Toyota and others show us is how not to react in a crisis. Seems like each of these institutions was blindsided by the onslaught of the situation and the resulting bad PR. So the lesson here is to not be caught by surprise which may lead to reactionary actions.
First of all you should have a crisis plan in place. As part of the plan you should have outlined a variety of crisis scenarios and plans to deal with each. Have a step by step plan that clearly details what to do in case any of these crises spring up. Even if you didnt predict a particular crisis in your plan, through this exercise you will know what to do by adjusting your plan to the crisis at hand. Key elements of the plan include:
List of members of Crisis Management Team (if you are a small company, this list may be very short — just the owner and head VP)
Designated spokesperson(s) with contact information (put one person in charge — a go to for the media and train them well)
This is just a taste of what should go into a crisis management plan. Don’t wait for the crisis to happen. Put it together now and be ready. How you handle a crisis is key in ensuring that the reputation and credibility you’ve worked so hard to build, stays intact.