Last time, we learned about the importance of having a crisis communications plan to help you and your organization respond to a crisis. However, you can be even more effective in managing a crisis if you carefully prepare for one! How does that work?
Begin by identifying your organization’s major risks or threats with a group of key employees, volunteers, and supporters. Major risks or threats are those that that potentially can have a major impact on your organization’s governance or operations. What could those be? You lose a major grant. A key staff member leaves. Your building burns. A staff member is accused of misconduct. The economic or political climate is unstable. Your organization is in violation of an existing law. All of these possible scenarios can impact the way your stakeholders and the public view your organization.
Once you have identified a list of possible crises, the group can then brainstorm what would happen to the organization were the crisis to take place. What would be the impact in terms of money, assets, reputation, staff, clients, and volunteers? How could these impacts be best managed? The outcome of this exercise is the beginning of a comprehensive crisis response plan.
Next, it is time to formulate a crisis response team. This is the team that will coordinate your organization’s response to a crisis. Typically, the crisis response team is composed of 5 – 7 people depending on the size of your organization, the nature of your services, and your organization’s experience in responding to a crisis.
Who should be on the team? Depending on the exact crisis, you might consider the following members:
· Someone who has the authority to make decisions for the organization.
· Someone who will be the official spokesperson with the public and the media.
· Someone who has legal expertise.
· Someone with financial knowledge.
· Someone who can manage the details involved in the crisis response.
· Someone with knowledge of your facilities.
Once you form your team, it is absolutely essential that the team is trained BEFORE a crisis hits. This is your action team, your feet-on-the-ground first responders. They must internalize all of the “what ifs” so that they will be able to think on their feet calmly and rationally.
Brainstorming all possible crises that might impact your organization, developing a set of response strategies, and training your crisis response team on the implementation of those strategies will allow your organization to survive a crisis.
Are you prepared for a crisis? If not, I urge you to begin that process TODAY!