What should you include in your organization’s crisis management plan? While a crisis preparedness program is much more comprehensive than a simple plan (although the plan is a very important component of the program), there are some essential elements to be found. This article contains information on 5 important items that should be added if they are not available in the crisis direction. It will be useful for companies to review their crisis management plans and add the following items to their crisis plans in case they are missing.
1- Activation Instructions
Not all events and problems reach crisis level. And while the crisis preparedness program scales for all kinds of problems and crises, the crisis plan or workbook should only be activated when a problem reaches crisis level or has the potential to escalate. If so, they should define these criteria as the first chapter in the crisis management booklet and provide the team with the tools and information they need to make the right decision during the heat of the crisis. Some of the elements that should be included in this section include:
• definition of the crisis; crisis in the broader sense of the term or by narrowing and defining certain specific crisis scenarios.
• Crisis management levels, at which all events should be categorized, should be determined.
• Internal troubleshooting protocols should be prepared.
• Specific effects that the team would like to consider when determining the level of an event should be written.
2- Detailed Action Plans
Action plans are basically a crisis management checklist for the crisis team. These plans ensure that important tasks are not forgotten or overlooked when things get hectic. When creating action plans, it is necessary to determine the tasks and action items that each department should undertake and perform within the first 24-48 hours of a crisis. Action plans can be department specific (this is always recommended) and should:
• Priority issues should be identified and marked, and a list should be made to be understood by everyone.
• A dedicated time frame should be determined for its completion. This should be done as realistically as possible and yet in a timely manner.
• A clear person should be assigned for each task. One of the team needs to have each action plan (for example, heads of departments can have their respective departmental action plans and each role). These are the people responsible for ensuring the completion of the item (company management)
• Include a place for team members to take notes and document progress for each action item in each action plan.
Tip: If you list the 5-10 most likely crisis scenarios, this will go a long way in helping to identify the most important action items for each department or team member.
3- Pre-Approved Crisis Communication Strategy and Messaging
One of the secrets of successful crisis management is timely, consistent and effective communication with key stakeholders. Still, timely confirmation of communication can be a daunting task. Therefore, one of the goals is to pre-define the crisis communication strategy and draft their communications, and have them pre-approved by all the right members of the team. (At this point as far as possible) The list of pre-approved communications should include:
- Crisis communication strategy (eg: proactive vs reactive, communication tools, hashtag strategy, etc.)
- Talking points / message points
- Holding statements / first response statements
- Formal (written) communication to each stakeholder group
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
4- Comprehensive Contact Lists
In times of crisis, when time is of the essence, no one wants to seek important contact information. Because nobody can tolerate wasting time. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the following contact information is included in the crisis management manual or booklet;
• All contact details of each member of the crisis management team
• All contact information for substitutes appointed by each crisis team member
• All contact information for every key stakeholder potentially needing direct reach in the midst of a crisis
All contact information for all major vendors and third party consultants / experts that may be required in a crisis
On the contrary, if there is a CRM or other company systems containing all these contact information for one or more stakeholder groups, it is necessary to make sure that those systems include the following information;
• Tagging appropriate data for easy reference, access and filtering in the heat of the crisis
• Referencing systems where appropriate in the crisis plan (i.e .: action plans)
• Have a printed backup somewhere in case systems fail in a crisis (for example, the lists detailed above)
However, it should be kept in mind that no matter what type of system is chosen to use for contact lists, they must be kept up to date.
5- A Detailed Resource Storage
In this part of the crisis management plan, all the additional resources and materials that any member of the crisis team might need should be included in the complexity of the moment. This can include anything of the following:
• Flow charts
• Specific stakeholder agreements or side letter details
• Network access credentials
• Anything else that can be useful for team members and crisis management
The goal of developing a crisis management plan is to think through any difficult decisions and plan the necessary tasks, communications, and information to the best of our ability to help make managing a crisis easier and more efficient.
In general terms, the above are the five sections that I have always included in my client’s crisis plans. This is absolutely not all-inclusive, but should include basic information to consider whether there is a pre-developed crisis preparedness program or whether this particular need is in the process of discussing internally.
Crisis communication is a difficult situation to master. Successful crisis communication requires a lot of thought and preparation. Those who do well do this not because they’re lucky, but because they’re prepared. So this situation is not something to be left to chance. It would be helpful to sit down with the leadership team of the organization and begin to think through and implement the above steps in crisis preparedness program.
In pre-planned crisis management, when a crisis occurs, it is possible to focus on the most important factors. In this way, it is possible to communicate effectively and efficiently about the factors that are most important for the business.