Join Laura Bergells for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining crisis, part of Crisis Communication.
- Consider these three different scenarios. One, one of your company's vehicles is involved in an accident with serious injuries on-board. Two, a front-line employee makes offensive statements about your company's customer base and it was caught on camera. Or three, your customers and suppliers are nervous because of a wide-spread rumor that a computer programming glitch may grind your entire operation to a halt. These three examples each outline a different crisis that can negatively impact your organization.
Defined broadly, a crisis is anything that can bring serious harm to people, or to your organization. It's a time of instability in your usual operating procedures that calls for strong leadership. It may seem obvious. Whenever people are seriously hurt or injured, you definitely have a crisis on your hands. It may be an accident. It may not even be your fault. But, if your organization is tied to deaths or injuries, you're in crisis.
However, we can also consider it a crisis if there's a threat of harm to your organization's reputation or financial viability. For this course, let's consider three levels of crisis. One, any reasonable threat to human life, health and public safety is a top-level crisis. Second, anything that threatens your organization's reputation can be considered a crisis. And finally, if you encounter a threat to your financial viability, you can treat this as a crisis situation.
For example, that employee who made the insensitive remarks, or that wide-spread rumor of a programming glitch, those kind of statements, or rumors, can hurt your organization's reputation. Your damaged reputation is not as serious as an immediate threat to public safety. However, a damaged reputation can lead to a loss of sales and public trust. And, if your employees are distracted by disturbing rumors, that can damage your day-to-day operations. This can negatively impact profitability.
As an exercise, brainstorm at least 10 threats that may impact your organization this year. Put them into categories. Is it a threat to your public health, your reputation, or financial viability? As you go through this exercise, you're likely to see that these three levels frequently overlap. A threat to public safety can almost always threaten your reputation and financial viability. And a threat to your reputation can have financial consequences. Organizations have a responsibility to communicate before, during, and after every level of crisis.
How well you communicate with customers, suppliers, employees, the media, and other important stakeholders can go a long way to control or contain damage. And, in some cases, responding quickly and confidently during and after a crisis, can even enhance the reputation of your organization.
- Define crisis.
- Explain how to respond quickly and confidently.
- Identify different audiences in crisis.
- Assess technical and physical resources.
- Describe how to establish a chain of command.
- Develop hold statements.
- Identify how to avoid common crisis response mistakes.
- Review your crisis communication response.