The importance of a Crisis Management Plan

Written by Kimberley Welman on 6 March 2018

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What is the definition of a crisis? (Wikipedia): A crisis is any event that is, or is expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, business, group, community or whole society. Crises are deemed to be negative changes in the securityeconomicpoliticalsocietal or environmental affairs, especially when they occur abruptly, with little or no warning. More loosely, it is a term meaning ‘a testing time’ or an ’emergency event’.

Today on the blog, we thought we would share with you the importance of having a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) in place and also offer some guidance on how one can be implemented.

Promedia has been developing and assisting in the implementation of  Crisis Management Plans for our  clients for more than three decades. In addition to ensuring CMPs are firmly in place for businesses and other organisations, we review and update them to coincide with any changes, company expansions, new management roles, projects, services and most importantly, to ensure that they reflect the delivery mechanisms of the ever evolving new media and traditional communication avenues.

Why does a company need a CMP? If a company manages a crisis professionally and efficiently it can minimise the negative impact that a crisis can potentially have on a business and its long-term operations. If a crisis isn’t handled well, it has the potential for a company’s earnings  to plummet and severely tarnish its reputation for a much longer period of time (and in some cases, never see a company fully recover).

If a crisis occurs, there are generally two categories that a company falls into: one that manages the crisis with a level of skill, control, professionalism and structure (the result of having a robust CMP already in place) or one that takes the ‘deer in headlights’ approach and tries to devise a strategy on the hop – when they have the media pack knocking down their door, customers and other stakeholders (and in some cases the world) watching them and waiting for answers, and staff members not knowing what to do. The disorganised and uncontrolled approach quickly becomes evident to the public eye – and can be cringe worthy to watch.

So, how does a business PREPARE for a crisis to ensure any potential risks are managed professionally? It needs a carefully crafted ‘Crisis Management Plan’ in place. The plan must demonstrate purposeful tactics and a clear and concise strategy that can be executed immediately in the event of a crisis.

While each CMP is different and targeted to suit the individual needs of each organisation, there are a few fundamental elements that determine the overall structure of a Crisis Management Plan.

They are;

  • Pre-empt possible crises and categorise them from low to high risk
  • Determine where they are most likely to occur
  • Anticipate when they are most likely to occur (those that are somewhat in your control)
  • Elect a Crisis Management Team (CMT)
  • Strategise key messages and the delivery mechanisms that will disseminate them
  • Develop a detailed communications schedule that can be actioned in the event of a crisis (keeping in mind that some professionals advise that the first social media communication should be posted within 15 minutes of the crisis taking place!)

INTERESTING STATS (source: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer)

  • Social media spreads the story within the country of origin in 50% of all cases and globally in 30% of all cases. This can happen within minutes.
  • 28% of all crises spread to international media within one hour
  • 69% of all crises spread to an average of 11 countries within 24 hours

Promedia PR works with small, medium and ASX-listed companies and community groups across a broad range of industries to devise Crisis Management Plans and host workshops, briefings, media training and strategy sessions.