Today’s reality is this: you have a whole 15 to 60 minutes to respond to a public crisis. And guess what! That timer begins with the start of the crisis—not from the time that your organization becomes aware of its existence.
When I explain this reality to many organizations, the reaction I often get is something along the lines of “well, that’s just not realistic for our team.” My reply? Then we have to figure out a way to make it realistic, because, like it or not, it’s today’s reality.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at the consequences that quickly result from lack of crisis readiness within this required, real-time, timeframe:
- You’ll have to deal with articles, blog posts and criticism attacking you for your lousy crisis communication skills (an issue that you will not want to face during a crisis!)
- Your stakeholders will turn to other platforms for answers to their questions, concerns and updates on the crisis. These other platforms are not yours, therefore they cannot possibly provide your stakeholders with the truths, the information and the messaging that you want.
- This also sparks the risk of rumors and speculation beginning to develop around the crisis… another issue that you will not want to face in a crisis.
- You’ll experience an influx of tweets, messages, posts, emails and phone calls with the inquiry of “do you know”, or “have you heard”, or “where the #$%& are you!!!”. Does this sound like something (avoidable) you want to have to deal with when you’re already dealing with a crisis? I think not!
So how can you go about making this mandatory 15-60 minute crisis response time a realistic reaction for your organization? I have three steps that will provide you with the solution.
3 steps that will enable you to respond to a crisis within 15 to 60 minutes
If you aren’t monitoring the conversations, discussions and mentions about and around your brand, you can’t expect to learn about a crisis within 15-60 minutes from it originating – never mind being able to respond to it within that timeframe.
Develop your first response statement in advance
Have your first response statement outlined prior to a crisis happening. The details of this first response can be filled in with the specifics of the crisis when the time comes. What’s important is to have the shell of the messaging prepared for your crisis team and/or frontline in advance.
Remember! Nobody expects you to have all the answers within 15-60 minutes. What they expect of you is a response. That response needs to include the three following (very important) communications:
- You are aware of the situation
- You are in the process of looking into the situation; and
- Your audience/stakeholders can expect to hear from you as soon as you know more (and be sure to specify on what channels these updates will be published to)
Your first response statement is as simple as that. Seem a little more realistic now?
Train your staff
Your frontline and your crisis teams need to know:
- How to detect a looming threat, crisis or issue
- What is expected of them in a crisis
- The importance of the first response statement, where to find it and how to use is
So, now that you’ve read this post, understand the expectations of your stakeholders in a crisis and the repercussions of not meeting those expectations, AND now that you have a detailed outline of how to create your first response statement, there’s no excuse!
Successfully responding to a crisis within 15-60 minutes from it originating is the first step to regaining control and suffering the least amount of long-term repercussions to your reputation and bottom line. The advice within this post is golden. Use it!
Melissa Agnes specializes in crisis response, prevention, planning and training for the digital age. Working with national organizations and global enterprises, Melissa offers a variety of specialized services that help today’s biggest and brightest brands prepare for, prevent and overcome any type of crisis situation. Connect with Melissa on Twitter and Linkedin.
MissionMode’s smarter mass notification and incident management applications enable organizations to take control of crises, and reduce the time and cost of the response. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a demonstration.