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Management Practices

Communicating in Times of Crisis

Zane Hagy | February 18, 2016 | 8:41 AM

Crises happen. We try not to run with scissors, we dot the i’s, we cross the t’s, we are careful about what’s in the background when we take our selfies — but when we’re least expecting it, crises can happen.

When a crisis does occur that impacts your business, the biggest mistake you can make is to NOT be ready to communicate with your stakeholders. Don’t stick your head in the sand and wait for the storms to pass. 

To make crisis communications easier, simply spend a few moments planning ahead. Regardless of the size of your business, ask yourself these simple questions:

  1. What are some of the things that could go wrong? Make a list of some of the things that could go wrong (this is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, just something to get your brain to wrap itself around the incredible list of potential problems waiting around the corner).
  2. Who’s in charge and who are the spokespeople? When things hit the fan, who is going to be making the decisions, and who is going to be in charge of speaking to the media and public if necessary? 
  3. What’s the strategy? This one will require some last-minute adjustments in times of need, but in most instances it’s best to be fully transparent and to try to get ahead of the problem. Be sure you know who you want to communicate with and how. Traditional media (TV and newspapers) will always be important, but don’t forget the speed of information flow in social media.

Admittedly, creating a true crisis communications plan can be much more involved than the information above. However, if at a minimum, you follow these simple steps you’ll be prepared to weather an unexpected storm and come out the other side stronger than you were before. 

Once the crisis is under control, there is one more very important thing to ask yourself. Does this crisis uncover any opportunities? Sure, crises suck. BUT, they’re often opportunities as well. Keep an entrepreneurial eye on your crisis and look for ways to maximize opportunities that arise from your difficulties.

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