Crisis plans aren’t optional

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

One of our firm’s areas of expertise is crisis management; and we’ve been doing a lot of it lately.  It has really driven home the point that no matter what kind of business you have, you need a crisis management plan.  It doesn’t have to be 300 pages long and jammed into a three ring binder.  It does have to be something you think about in advance; you know, a “what would we do if?” type of exercise.

All too often businesses and organizations think they have it under control and if something happens they’ll just deal with it.  But, I can tell you that when you’re dealing with a crisis and the media suddenly shows up in your parking lot, you aren’t going to have time to wing it.  And you may not have the expertise to wade through the myriad of stakeholders you need to communicate with.

So how do you put together a crisis management plan?  There are plenty of resources around to help you. The Internet is full of crisis plan examples. You can hire a firm like ours to help. You can turn to your insurance company or your attorney. Or maybe you have someone on staff that is good with planning. The key is to get your key people together and talk about those “what ifs.”  What are the most likely things that could happen to your business? If something happens, what stakeholders will you need to contact and communicate with? Compile the lists that you will need (employee contacts, insurance, legal, document backups, etc.). Decide who is going to tackle what in the event of a crisis.  Figure out what outside help you might need. Write it all down and then revisit the plan at least once a year. It will make a world of difference when a crisis actually occurs.

One final note: When a crisis occurs, it will never unfold the way you anticipate. But, if you have a plan, you’ll have some good ideas about how to proceed. That will be worth its weight in gold.