Three Ways Your Company Can Handle A Crisis When Decision Makers Are Out

What happens when the phone rings and there’s a crisis? Your initial response is to call your usual crisis response “go to” person. What if they aren’t available? Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and lead. Following these three steps can help you to manage a crisis as effectively and efficiently as the pros do.

  1. Prepare
    The first of the four steps in public relations is research. In a crisis, research is gathering the facts. Sorting the truth from fiction is a necessary step in the research phase and will help to determine and effectively measure the severity of the crisis. Fiction often accompanies truth in a crisis and it is critical that one is separated from the other.
  2. Plan
    Find a place that is private and prepare a plan. Usually the first plan involves the next ninety minutes or so. Alert the media as to when they can expect information from you and/or the client. Thoroughly prepare your client for the media; prepare key points and write a statement for the spokesperson. Also, prepare a set of questions the spokesperson should expect so they are prepared.
  3. Lead
    During the first few hours of the crisis, it is important that you lead. Be calm, composed and confident in carrying out your tasks. Emotions frequently run high in a crisis, so composure is essential. Organize the site for the media briefing and see that the plan is executed as smoothly as possible.

When working in the public relations industry, crises are inevitable.  Being prepared to handle such situations will allow you to gain your clients’ trust and further prove your abilities in their times of need.

Steve Turnbo, is the chairman emeritus and co-founder of Schnake Turnbo Frank. He has worked in the PR industry for over 40 years and has coached multiple clients through crises.