Posts Tagged ‘crisis management’

Your crisis manual – dead or alive?

By Corneel Maes

These days, most international companies have a crisis manual – or are at least aware that they need one. In a global market, where social media can build or kill your reputation, crisis preparedness planning has become a must-have. But then again, too many executives still feel confident that the crisis manual – readily stowed away in their top drawer – is their insurance for handling a crisis successfully. I’ll tell you what happens “if the shit hits the fan”. The precious booklet will be outdated, contact persons and process owners have moved to different positions, procedures have changed, that updated checklist was not included yet. And when was the equipment in the crisis room tested again? Don’t even remember … Conclusion: the crisis manual is dead. No issue really in keeping it buried in that top drawer, it’s useless anyway.

Here are 5 basic rules that will help you keep your crisis manual alive and kicking:

  1. Appoint an owner for the crisis manual and make that person accountable for its accuracy.
  2. Do a sanity check of the crisis manual at least once every quarter. Check names, contact details, templates – and don’t forget to update the key figures in the boiler plate after your quarterly results publication.
  3. Update your stakeholder databases and make sure they are accessible even when the whole ICT network has collapsed.
  4. Review the decision trees, roles & responsibilities of the crisis team members and escalation guidelines after any major strategic development in your company.
  5. Last but not least, talk about the existence of the crisis manual within your organization. Make sure it is included in the welcome package for new hires and integrate it into your management development training program.

Reputation management doesn’t stop when the crisis is over

By Corneel Maes

Real time reputation management has substantially increased corporate risk awareness and crisis preparedness, however it can never be an insurance premium against Murphy’s Law. Accidents will happen, as they say. Unfortunately. A lot has been said and written about crisis communications, but there is an element to good crisis management that is often overlooked. And yet, it is as important as managing the crisis in the first place: what about post-crisis evaluation & learnings?

I’m a big fan of not immediately dropping the pen and sitting back as soon as the crisis situation is under control. Post-crisis evaluation is becoming even more important as we manage reputations on-line and in real time. Two intertwined aspects are important to assess, with the crisis management experience still fresh in the heads.

First of all internal processes: How did the crisis management team interact? Was initial fact finding effective and quick enough? Were initial data reliable? Did internal procedures work? Was the crisis room equipment fit for the job? What about stress resistance within the crisis team? Does the crisis communications plan need an overhaul? I could go on with more questions in the checklist.Learning from mistakes AND from things that went well will strengthen the team and the processes for a next (hopefully never occurring) event.

And then there is the outside world. How did the media do? Did our messages resonate with audiences on-line and off-line?? Did we come across valuable advocates on twitter and facebook? How can we do damage repair with influential bloggers who have been voicing criticism for the past 2 weeks or 2 months? Doing that exercise – combined with on-line measuring – enhances crisis preparedness yet another nudge.