When you began your business, you had a detailed plan for success. As time went on, you planned ahead for growth and expansion. Along the way, a crisis or unexpected event is bound to happen. What is your plan of action in time of crisis? In today’s world of instant information and Internet rumors, every business must have an emergency communication plan in place – before disaster strikes.
A communication plan designates who will speak for the company, to whom and what entities they will speak, how the communication will occur, and what will be said. This critical plan provides a clear template to follow when stress and emotions are running high and there is a demand for an immediate response. A well-planned response will present your company as calm, informed, and in control at the time of the crisis. This plan of action also helps in receiving fair treatment in the media and in helping to mitigate damage to the company’s reputation which may occur as a result of the crisis.
What constitutes a crisis?
A crisis can be anything that threatens to damage the continuation of your business. Resulting damage can affect your long and short term strategies, daily operations, financial condition, and finally, your reputation.
Workplace injuries and deaths are a fact of life in many industries. A crisis preparedness study conducted in 2011 by Penn Schoen Berland found that 66% of the businesses surveyed had suffered a crisis, with the number even higher in manufacturing and technology-based businesses. If your company has even just one computer or a small website, it is vulnerable to problems from cyberspace – from your employees doing things they shouldn’t, to breaches within your email or internet service provider or from someone hacking into your banking institution. These aren’t life threatening situations, but they still require an organized and thoughtful response to both internal communications – to employees and their families – and external communications, to the community, emergency responders and the news media.
After the crisis has passed
When the dust has settled, take a deep breath and review. Ask yourself the following questions:
Companies who have created a plan for handling crises before they occur respond to situations more effectively and recover far more rapidly than companies without a plan. Remember: The crisis itself is less likely to put you out of business than how you handle the situation. Having a plan ahead of time is similar to having insurance for your reputation. Putting in the time to develop a solid plan before anything actually happens pays dividends when the unexpected occurs.
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