Friday, May 25, 2012

Crisis Communications, Protocols And Management - Emergency Planning And Rapid Response

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The proper crisis communications, protocols and management, as well as definitive emergency planning and rapid response actions can mean the difference between life or death for your organization. Not only is it a matter of damage control and mitigation of exposure, but it is a means, if used wisely, to positively exploit the crisis for  a publicity or public relations gain -- that's right: Imagine the power of converting a liability into an educational experience and newsworthy asset!

To successfully handle and triumph over a crisis, your company must have the following pieces in place at all times:

1) An immediate emergency alert system. Sometimes numerical or verbal codes, similar to those used in law enforcement, are excellent to convey a crisis alert.

2) A crisis response team within your ranks -- like a SWAT team.

3) A command and control hierarchy with a separate channel of immediate communications -- text message alerts and the like can be very helpful here, as well as a dedicated crisis conference line or web-conferencing facility.

4) A specific step-by step plan for each type of emergency, by category.

5) A virtual "Situation Room" where you and your SWAT Team can rapidly build a damage control, loss containment and "let's make lemonade out of this lemon" program for immediate effectuation. Make absolutely certain to get these five pieces into position today -- not when a crisis is already upon you.

An article excerpt of interest from the SmartBrief Newsletter follows for your information. When you've finished, please return to this page for a checklist outline of actions that you should take for crisis planning, damage control and risk/loss containment. We'll be waiting for you...

How to communicate during a crisis
Drafting a "holding statement" can help to get you through the early parts of dealing with a crisis, Alex Honeysett writes. Such a statement should be simple and it should let interested parties know you are aware of the issue. Once you know more about the problem, you can create more in-depth communications, she writes. "Always be as transparent and honest as possible," she recommends. (5/23)

Some other actionable items should be noted in dealing with a crisis:

1) Vigilance and skill in crisis evasion or intervention is better than having to deal with a full-blown crisis. Have all of your alarm systems in place and be proactively responsive. Be aggressive in acknowledging, communicating and attacking problems before they get the "jump" on you.

2) Advise all affected parties (clients, customers and others) immediately in the event that a crisis might impact them. Tell them what to expect, what you are doing, and they they will be rewarded (discounts, coupons, free servicing, gifts....whatever!) for their patience and loyal patronage.

3) When your crisis is over, maximize PR and social media with a story about how you triumphed, and praise and thanks all of the parties who helped you in the "successful collaborative effort." Example: "Had it not been for the faith, support and creative input of our clients, we could not have come through this bit of turbulence so smoothly. Our [name your company] clients are one of our finest sources of intelligence, constructive feedback, and general enthusiasm -- they motivate us to do our best."

You can send this type of announcement out to your email list, and through a very inexpensive NEWS RELEASE. Turn what might have been a possible defeat into a stunning victory. Everyone loves a Human Interest story. 

Two recommended resources for blasting your News Release to achieve maximum results are listed below. It's a good idea to use two services, and send releases out (each with a slightly different slant, two weeks apart:


Douglas E. Castle for The InfoSphere Business Alerts And Intelligence Blog 

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