10 Rules of Crisis Management
By Brian Ellis, EVP/Crisis Communications & whatcanbe Lab After 10 years in the news business and 20 years counseling clients how to stay out of headlines when a crisis strikes, I’ve developed 10 basic rules of crisis management. 1. Being Unprepared Is No Excuse. My father was an officer of the U.S. Army. Although I was never an active Boy Scout, their motto “Be Prepared” was drilled into my head at an early age. As I’ve toiled in this industry for the past two decades, it has amazed me how many companies are totally unprepared to deal with a real crisis. Most either have a crisis plan that hasn’t seen the light of day for at least a decade, or the plan is so complicated it would require an army of engineers to figure it out. Sorry to say, far too many organizations have found more important items to address, leaving their crisis plans as to-do items until the day the stuff hits the fan. They say it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a few hours to destroy it. You’re almost guaranteed the latter, if you fail to plan. Being unprepared is no excuse; it’s just a reflection of the importance you place on your reputation. 2. You Know The Threats – Get Ready For Them. In every crisis training session I conduct, I ask the audience if they can identify the top five threats facing their company. At first, you see a lot of heads bobbing up and down, but after a little prodding, they begin to develop the list. “So if you know the threats,” I ask, “how can you be unprepared for them?” (See Rule 1.) Crisis management is about speed. The faster you respond, the fewer problems you will face. In order to get out of the door quickly, you need to have fill-in-the-blank, pre-approved, stand-by statements ready to go. I had one client develop stand-by statements and key messages regarding her top five threats in an afternoon. It doesn’t have to be time intensive, but it does have to be a priority. 3. Know What You Want To Say Before...
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