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Implement the Crisis Management Plan

The primary objective of any CM plan is to set up a flexible structure that is capable of responding to any crisis quickly, decisively and in a coordinated manner.
Moh Heng Goh

Document the CM System

The primary objective of any CM plan is to set up a flexible structure that is capable of responding to any crisis quickly, decisively and in a coordinated manner.

IC_CM_Implement the CM Plan

The criteria for the development of a best practice CM manual will be thoroughly explained and worked through. Practical examples of best practice CM manuals will be provided for comparison with current documentation.

The key criteria for implementing the CM procedures and manual include:

  • Having user-friendly content during a crisis;
  • Being prescriptive about who takes responsibility for what; and
  • Providing an audit trail for post-incident investigation.

The CM plan should establish:

  • Relationships;
  • Responsibilities; and 
  • Continuity.

The CM Plan should include:

  • A notification system with a specific and up-to-date listing of current contact information on the team members, a chain of command, and relevant external agencies;
  • The identification of a CM team;
  • An assessment of the most likely crisis scenarios;
  • The development of a CM Plan document;
  • Periodic crisis training exercises; and
  • Adherence to crisis communication guidelines and continual review and refinement of the CM Plan.

Crisis Management Plan

Crisis management plan (Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications, 2012) may include:

  • Crisis risk management documentation, such as
    • Communications strategies;
    • Issue tracking;
    • Risk assessments and evaluations;
    • Risk management team lists;
    • Risk registers;
    • Treatment strategies; and
    • Vulnerability profiles.
  • initial response instructions for various roles and areas
  • emergency response structure
  • program review and monitoring processes
  • resource inventory for response and recovery
  • responsibility and authority of individual roles
  • warning systems

Component of CM, IM and BC Plan with the 6 Rs

Prepare a Plan Ahead

One of the best tools for managing a crisis is a well-conceived, ready-to-go CM plan that can be activated when a crisis occurs. The key to protecting and enhancing the organization’s reputation is to have a plan in place and to train the staff for an emergency situation in advance.

The plan outlining the CM approach should describe the nature of the brand and the corporate reputation that the organization wants to protect. This CM plan should consider the potential impact of different crisis scenarios. For example:

  • What would happen if a fire occurred and the organization is unable to fulfil a vital contract?
  • What if someone contaminated an organization’s primary product?
  • How does an organization handle a product recall?
  • How would a drop in the stock price affect the organization’s reputation?

Crisis Communication Plan Content

A Crisis Communication Plan should include:

  • A press kit;
  • The background material for media information;
  • The list of key media outlets;
  • The pre-prepared statements for a variety of risk situations;
  • A generally prepared statement that projects a responsible image;
  • A series of talking points for potential crises that can be identified in advance; and
  • The roles and responsibilities of the Crisis Communication team.

Refer to Chapter 20: Manage Crisis Communication for the detailed process for managing crisis communication. For more details on what is needed to appoint a designated spokesperson.

The Crisis communication plan need not be a comprehensive, highly detailed document since it cannot cover all crises. However, it should provide a flexible, action-oriented CM Plan that can be easily adapted.

Select CM Team Leader

When setting up a CM Team, it is essential that the team leader be:

  • Identified and pre-selected to deal with crisis management;
  • A senior management staff member or a director with the authority and experience to make decisions in what could be difficult circumstances; and
  • Someone who can step away from his or her day-to-day responsibilities to lead the crisis team should a crisis happen.

Organize the Team

The CM Team Leader should:

  • Make provisions for a flexible management structure in the event of a crisis
  • Identify representatives from key operational and policy areas and make them aware of their responsibilities during a potential crisis
  • Identify representatives who can meet the information needs of different groups of stakeholders, such as consumers, regulators, the media, employees, and stockholders, who would take each view of a crisis from a different perspective.

Crisis-related problems usually bring together diverse interests. They include the following:

 

Functional Specialist

Skillset

Technical

Explain product or operational issues.

Marketing

Advise on customer communication requirements.

Finance

Assess the financial implications of the crisis.

Public Relations

Deal with the media.

If an organization does not have functional specialists responsible for each of these areas, it may need to identify people with relevant skills or brief an agency to provide standby support.

Prepare an Action Plan

Your action plan should detail the events that should happen after a crisis occurs. Each member of the response team will be responsible for gathering information and reporting it to the rest of the team. They should, therefore, have an up-to-date list of internal and external contacts for their particular area of responsibility.

The action plan should cover some key points including:

  • The point at which the CM plan will be activated;
  • The person to be alerted when the CM plan is activated; and
  • The method of communication between CM team members and their main contacts.

The action plan should identify the spokesperson who will deal with media and other inquiries. Ideally, the spokesperson will have media training, but should also have the level of responsibility and seniority to make statements that are credible. Although it may seem easier to give responsibility for this frontline role to a public relations consulting firm, it may be more appropriate for the company to handle its media response, as this demonstrates a commitment to resolving the crisis.

Identify Crisis Points

Every organization has crisis points. Crisis Points about an organization should be closely examined, and these include:

  • Controversial personnel;
  • Products or services;
  • Internal philosophical conflicts;
  • Weak managers;
  • Known instances of communication breakdowns; and
  • Changing public attitudes.

What If?

"What if?" is a valuable question to ask in CM. Futuristic scenarios and model solutions based on an organization's vulnerable spots can remove surprises in the next crisis and give it a head start in dealing with such situations.

Fact-find During Non-crisis Periods

As you identify crisis points and construct scenarios, you should be routinely gathering, sorting, and classifying known information relevant to your organization—including rumours.

Classify the information

Classify the information such as facts and myths.

  • Facts should be routinely updated.
  • Rumours should be verified or exposed as myths.

Select the Right CM Team Members

All organizations need a CM team. They are a group of pivotal players that perform key functions during a crisis.  These pivotal players must be prepared to work around the clock, if necessary, for successful crisis management.  The identity of these pivotal players should not be high profile within the organization lest they become compromised before, during, or even after a crisis.

Each member should receive routine CM training and should be updated regularly on potential crisis points, facts, and myths.

By developing a list of qualified personnel in different areas of an organization who could serve in this role, the organization has improved its flexibility to respond to a crisis. The organization is expected to benefit from a good list of contacts that can be called on to respond to a wide variety of issues to prevent crises.

Surviving a Crisis

However unpleasant a crisis may be, it will eventually end. Your hope, of course, is that it will end quickly with a minimum of damage to your organization. In fact, a crisis can have a positive outcome for your organization.

Effective crisis management can legitimize the mission of an organization or clarify its role. It can provide a fresh start or a new opportunity for your management team or your organization. Moreover, because top management is willing to deal with it openly, how the crisis is managed can often promote positive opinions about your organization in the minds of the public and among employees.

 

A Manager’s Guide to Implementing Your Crisis Management Plan

 

Goh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Crisis Management Plan. Business Continuity Management Specialist Series (1st ed., p. 192). Singapore: GMH Pte Ltd.

Extracted from Implement the CM Plan

 

 

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