Know your plan and play your role
Every company has a organizational chart – a ladder of power, but how this structure functions during a crisis must be clarified with all the stakeholders in the company; particularly the communications department. A crisis can hit at any time, and the company needs to determine secondary command structures in case key decision-makers are unavailable at the time.
Not only is it important for those to know who need to spring to action (and how those people are contacted) – it is equally important that everyone else in the organization knows they can not speak on behalf of the company or to the press.
Not cementing the items discussed in this quote, from the NetResults PR blog, is the prime reason why many crisis management campaigns experience a dangerously sluggish start. With the lightning fast news cycle we now experience, there just isn’t time to review the facts, gather your leadership, and create a plan. In the case of a serious crisis, the conversation will likely have spiraled far out of your control, and even in minor situations you’ll have the peanut gallery gladly filling in the gaps with rumor and innuendo.
With the amateur E-Reporter firmly cemented as a legitimate information source, it’s doubly important to remember the second part of the quote – people need to know who can talk and who can’t, and those who can, MUST know exactly what to say and how to say it.
You can’t “wing it” against a trained reporter any more than you’d “wing it” in a bullfight. In both cases you’ll come out beaten, bloodied, and full of holes.
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is a writer, publicist and SEO associate for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]