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A crisis is any unplanned event, occurrence or sequence of events that has a specific undesirable consequence.  Environmental pollution, accidents and data security breaches are but a few examples of potential crisis situations that companies face. 

The most effective crisis management occurs when situations are detected and dealt with quickly, before they can impact upon the business. In those instances they never come to the attention of customers or the general public. But those which do escalate, often share several common characteristics. They are nearly always harmful, distracting from important daily tasks. They create negative feelings among employees and can cast doubt about the company’s credibility, particularly in these days of real-time social media. 

Online social and web search means bad news travels faster and further than ever, and it is vitally important to act with honesty and speed to inform employees and customers of the problem and explain how it’s being addressed.  The first step is to get the real story and understand the elements of the crisis.  Then, move as fast as possible, rather than waiting for more information to come in before you act.  

Defensive and even argumentative approaches can amplify the whole situation and only make things worse, so good internal and external communications are vital and everyone involved in the crisis should receive the same information.

It is very important that the organisation has its story and strategy straight—no matter who is speaking.  To avoid any misconceptions or incorrect interpretations by others, your company should use all means at its disposal to communicate what has happened and what you’re doing about it. This includes using your social media pages, website, company blog and media releases.

As speed is the critical factor, we recommend that companies small amount of time and money to plan for potential crisis situations.  This means developing a crisis response plan so that designated employees have the essential information they need should a crisis occur.   

These plans should integrate the operational and communications response to ensure a coordinated effort and minimize any chance of misinformation.  Operational response is essential as it can saves lives, property and other assets.  Effective communication is also important, as it saves the business.