By Christina Rytter, Founder & Crisis Communications Advisor

As I’m sure everyone has seen by now a crisis can happen at any time – and when you least expect it. Therefore every organization should be ready to manage every possible crisis. From my 20 years as Crisis Communications Advisor, I have learned that successful handling of a crisis is 70 percent preparation and 30 percent execution.

To best handle the first part of the equation, here are my Top 5 Steps that you need to take right now if you have not done so already:

1. Identify potential scenarios for crises. 

Study what has happened to other companies, both inside and outside your industry. Then, ask key people in your organization to identify the most vulnerable areas or processes. In this process you also should analyze your company’s state of readiness by asking these types of questions; Do we have a crisis plan? Is it up to date and relevant, or is it just boilerplate? Who are in our PR crisis-management team? (Read more about PR crisis-management team in my article posted just before this one). 

2. Check the readiness of your PR crisis-management team. 

Do they know their potential roles? Are they familiar with the company’s crisis response resources, policies and procedures? Are your key leaders and other spokespersons comfortable and effective in front of the media? Do they have experience in crisis situations or crisis simulations?

3. Research records & review Social Media status 

Take a research of your company’s record. What previous crises has it faced and what were the outcomes? Such information always comes out in a crisis, so you need to be ready to deal with those issues when this happens. Also, review your social media status. Consider the following: Do you have the tools and people in place to monitor LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.? Can you respond quickly to misinformation, accusations and distortions? Is your management aware of the impact and can respond to these media?

4. Build key leader image & strengthen key relations

It’s a cleaver crisis readiness strategy to work with PR and build a positive image of key leaders. Any company in a crisis starts with an advantage if people know and respect both the company and its leaders. The CEO and other top management should appear occasionally in business media and at “good-news events”. Also, examine and strengthen key relationships. This includes local and national media, government officials, employees, people in potentially affected communities and other stakeholders and influencers your company might have.

5. Schedule training & simulations. 

Set-up media- and messages training sessions with key leaders and other spokespersons. Anyone who could end up in the spotlight should know the essentials of successful media interviews. Those who have not participated in media training should consider a session at the earliest opportunity. Those who have not recently participated in media training should take a refresher training.

It is also highly effective for your crisis readiness to stage crisis simulations. These programs are beneficial in many ways beyond just producing a higher state of readiness. They help discover flaws in current crisis plans, identify leadership qualities and raise everyone’s awareness.

Learn more about Crisis Communications