Small Business Disaster Recovery Series: Crisis Management
The 2011 hurricane season starts tomorrow, June 1.
As a computer service in Houston, we tend to focus on the IT portion of disaster preparedness. While IT plays a significant role, there are many other key factors executives of small and midsized business should consider when planning for disaster.
This is the first article in a series featuring a roster of disaster recovery experts to help you get your business ready for the 2011 hurricane season:
Crisis Management 101: Facing the Media
By Guest Blogger Ron Wood
Always be ready in advance to respond to the media in a crisis. A crisis is defined as any situation that threatens or could possibly threaten to harm people or property, interrupt business, damage reputation or negatively impact share value.
Types of Crisis Situations
There are many reasons why a crisis can occur. As you can see from the following list, some are preventable and some are not.
- Product recalls
- Executives facing fraud or jury indictments
- Workplace accidents, injuries or deaths
- Workplace violence
- Harassment allegations
- Discrimination issues
- Security Issues
- Fire, flood or natural disasters
It can take years to recover from a crisis handled poorly, so plan in advance. Have within the context of your business continuity plan specific steps to take when addressing the media. The first step is to establish internal lines of communication. Create a Crisis Information Team who will source, synthesize and report information directly to the company President or CEO. Designate an appropriate company spokesperson who is articulate and comfortable speaking to the media. If no one in your firm fits this role, consider hiring a professional spokesperson. Assess what is known, and what is still unknown, the cause, possible negative effects, and remedies you are examining. Establish if there is a corporate policy for the specific situation. If yes, go over the policy with the spokesperson.
Do not avoid the media. Hiding causes the media to seek out other sources within your industry for comment. Do you really want your competitors appraising your situation, criticizing your business and possibly profiting from your misfortune? Anticipating all of the reporter’s questions is rarely possible, but be prepared for basic questions. If you honestly do not know an answer, admit it. Do not guess. Assess the time it will take to get the answer and request that time to get back with the specifics. Remain dignified, calm and authoritative at all times. Just speaking in a calm manner can go a long way in diffusing a negative situation. Do not “spin,” blame, or go off on tangents. Never say "No comment”-- it is perceived at “Guilty.”
Be available for follow-up questions so there is no guesswork. Appear ready and willing to do the right thing -- swiftly and unequivocally. There may be times when professional legal representation is necessary to address technical or highly confidential issues. Understand the reporter's challenge; their competence is assessed not only by accuracy of what they write, but how timely they can deliver the piece. The pressure of deadlines and not being able to verify vital information can cause misquotes or ambiguous references which may not be complimentary. When pressed for time, even the best journalists may fail to maintain complete objectivity.
Use the lessons learned from the crisis to identify any weak points in your company’s policies or operations. Sometime a crisis presents an opportunity for positive change. Feel-good stories about businesses that recover from a crisis are always sought after by editors.
The link to the full story about Crisis Management is: http://www.prbyrw.com/crisismanagement.html
Questions on how to set up a disaster recovery plan? Email us for a complimentary DR Assessment.