By Dorian Martin:
Regardless of the scale or industry your business operates in, a crisis can rear its head in unexpected intervals. Given the COVID-19 landscape, many industries had to go through a rigorous change in how they operate. According to HubSpot, 36.4% of businesses reported they had no budget or plans prepared for emergency situations in 2019. In turn, 62% of businesses do have crisis management plans on record – although they are rarely if ever updated based on current events.
Crisis management is an integral part of running your business and its data management. The way you treat crisis situations effectively speaks volumes of how attentive and professional you are in regards to your staff’s wellbeing and client data. So, how do you write a solid crisis management plan which you can use to address uncertain situations in 2020 and beyond? What are the practical benefits of having such a document in place? Let’s discuss these points in greater detail.
Advantages of Writing a Solid Crisis Management Plan
Why should you write a crisis management plan for your business in 2020? As we’ve pointed out, we live in uncertain times, and numerous industries such as retail have been affected by current events. Based on surveys done by PR News Online, some of the most common crisis scenarios businesses face include but are not limited to:
- Ethics or compliance (55.38%)
- Major accidents (35.48%)
- Product or service quality issues (36.02%)
- Mismanagement (39.25%)
- Cyber-attacks (38.71%)
Managing a crisis effectively requires planning, documentation and education of staff members who will be able to react autonomously as soon as an event happens. Such a document can improve business communication, internal resource management and help you control your business’ PR more efficiently. In addition, some of the advantages of writing a crisis management plan also include:
- Employee empowerment and feeling of safety in times of crisis
- Proactive reaction to threats and detractors to your business
- Ability to actively update the plan and actively learn from new crises
- Maintain your business’ professional reputation despite crisis scenarios
Writing a Solid Crisis Management Plan
Define the Crisis from your Perspective
The best way to circumvent a crisis scenario is to know where to look for signs of issues in the first place. In order to make the most out of your crisis management plan, you should consider your business’ perspective in the matter.
What constitutes a crisis for a data science startup (cyber-attacks) might be a non-issue for a clothing storefront (credit card scams). Thus, take the time to list all the possible vectors in which crisis can happen in your company. While you’re at it, you can brainstorm possible solutions and effects such crises might have on your business long-term.
Write an Action Plan for your Employees
Every crisis scenario you add to your crisis management plan should be accompanied by an action plan for employees to follow. An action plan will allow your employees to react immediately when a crisis happens in your company. Such an approach will enrich your company’s business intelligence and ensure that the staff is fully aware of potential threats. Some of the items you should include in the crisis management action plans include:
- Database of contact information for managers and higher-ups
- Contact information for third-party security/PR agencies under your contract
- Passwords and credentials for emergency access to company databases
- Ideal timeline of how the crisis should be handled
- Action plan available digitally and in printed copy, to be accessed only when needed
Prepare a Crisis Statement
The chances are that you won’t be able to keep the lid on your crisis scenario when it hits. The most important thing for you to do is to address the problem head on and show professionalism in doing so. Take time to write crisis statements for different fictional, albeit possible scenarios.
Don’t let paparazzi or a disgruntled staff member leak what is going on in your company. Have a PR manager on standby and available for proactive press engagement in order to mitigate the crisis scenario in public media. The way you handle the crisis will showcase how trustworthy and stable your company’s management is – be the first to admit a mistake.
Approve & Distribute the Crisis Management Plan
Lastly, once you write up your crisis management plan, it should be made available to everyone on the staff. Make sure that your employees are fully aware of the document’s existence and that they should refer to it in case of an emergency. The point of the document is to help your staff overcome a difficult situation – its purpose is not to hinder them in any way.
You can go the extra mile by organizing teambuilding exercises and meetings with the staff (depending on your business’ scale) in order to train. These training exercises can help your staff bond and be more prepared to practically implement the plan. This is an opportunity to also get feedback from your staff on the viability of the document and potential pain points or update possibilities.
Crisis as a Growth Opportunity (Conclusion)
Managing a crisis scenario is all about perspective. Yes, crises are inherently negative, but they can also facilitate your company’s growth. Once the crisis is over, the public will remember how you handled it. Likewise, your staff will carefully follow the decisions and behaviour of upper management if a crisis happens.
You can use this to your advantage and come out stronger from the process because of it. Make sure to collect as much data as possible from real-life crises your business faced in the past and learn from them. While you can’t predict when a crisis might happen to a minute, you can be better prepared to handle one once it pops up.
About the Author: Dorian Martin is a writer, editor and business communication expert with academic degrees in computer science and mass communication. He enjoys writing and publishing online content in a variety of niches, including digital marketing, data science, and business management. Dorian also likes to work with academic students who want to order research paper online given his own background in academia. In his spare time, Dorian contributes to his personal blog and tries to keep up with the latest news and trends.