Crisis Intervention and Management: Be Ready for Your Next Business Disaster
Twitter is unforgiving. If your company finds itself in the midst of a crisis, it may not be able to recover without a quick response. We aren’t just talking about DEFCON 10 level disasters either. A viral tweet from a former employee or angry customer can make or break your reputation.
Consider United, for example, an airline with its fair share of social media fodder, making headlines around the world when attendants dragged a man off a plane. Hopefully, these atrocities don’t occur on your watch, but should they, you must know how to respond.
For some companies, the answer seems intuitive, easy even. Call your crisis control consultant. Call your attorney. Trust me, we attorneys appreciate it, we do. That said, making your first action to call me up on the phone and tell me what happened means you’re already behind in your crisis response. You’ll get to me, I promise, but it’s important you take some quick and decisive actions to control your reputation before you do.
1. Designate an Internal Crisis Manager, Before Crisis Strikes
Your internal crisis manager is the person who will get the ball moving as soon as a crisis occurs. This includes managing company communications and delegating responsibilities to the internal crisis management team. One of those responsibilities should be phoning your attorney. (Hi, I’m here for you!) This crisis manager should be separate and apart from the CEO, but also be someone who carries much trust and esteem within the company.
2. Appoint a Crisis Management Team
Your crisis manager will have trouble delegating responsibilities if there’s no team to support them. It’s equally important that an internal team be ready to pounce into action the minute a crisis hits the radar. This team should have regular scenario training so they are ready to handle all of the touchpoints of crisis management. In addition to your attorney, you should have your advertising team, and maybe your PR vendor on your team. These separate team members each come with a specialized skill, but they are also independent actors who can guide you without the emotion internal actors are bound to be guided by.
3. Have a Playbook
James Haggerty, the author of Chief Crisis Officer, stresses the importance of a written playbook used to navigate crises. This is a set of documents including instructions, checklists, and flowcharts that lead to a successful resolution.
4. Crisis Ready Culture
Tim Johnson, a consultant who wrote the book Crisis Leadership, does things a little differently, and advises businesses to operate within a “crisis ready culture”.
Harvard Business Review explains, “Johnson describes two kinds of bias that arise from a fight-or-flight response and lead to bad choices: ‘intervention bias,’ or the urge to overreach and take on tasks for which an organization is ill-equipped; and ‘abdication bias,’ which causes one to eschew responsibility or blame others.”
He suggests business leaders “resist the urge” to act too quickly before they have all the facts, but similar to Haggerty, he recommends working with a stellar intervention team poised for a response.
Whether you run a cruise line or a political campaign, a crisis can strike anywhere. It’s important to be thoughtfully prepared for crisis intervention in your business model. For more information on how Lynch Law can help you through your next crisis, big or small, contact me today.