Crisis management – why you need a plan

  • 15 April, 2016
  • Tracy Long

Crisis point: the clear-up begins in Banda Aceh after the 2004 tsunami. Photo: Australia Civil-Military Centre 

A crisis can strike at any time and have devastating results on a business. But advanced planning can make all the difference when it comes to handling a crisis well.

Crisis management pivots around good communication – delivering information in an accurate and timely way directly to those who need it in the format they desire.

Having worked in the tour operating and airline industries for many years, I have personally dealt with many types of crisis from major customer complaints right through to acts of terrorism and tsunamis.

In each case, we worked to an agreed and formulated plan, about which all necessary parties were aware. This included media training for the leadership team and key spokespeople for the business, as well as a procedural drill for dealing with any form of crisis.

Here are some key steps to understanding and implementing your plan:

  • Listen. Get the full facts from all the parties involved both internally and externally (for example the Foreign Office if applicable).
  • Articulate the facts to your relevant teams and management, ensuring that you all fully understand the situation.
  • Compile the media statement and once approved issue to the relevant parties. The statement needs to show the company speaking in one positive voice, even in a negative situation. It should deliver a clear and consistent message.
  • Keep employees informed as this will help prevent speculation and will enable the business to continue to run as smoothly as possible.
  • Ensure you update media statements early and as often as needed.
  • Ensure you use all the social media platforms that you need to.
  • Finally, try to be as honest and open as you can. If it really is your fault, sound sorry, say sorry and be sorry.