Although it is impossible to predict when a crisis will occur or how it will manifest, there are core basic principles that can be applied to all ‘crisis’ situations. The key is always preparation. Being prepared means having a set structure in place; this can be used when a crisis hits any company and although the circumstances may vary, the preparation and planning is consistent throughout. It is vital that everyone on the Crisis Management Team knows their role and what they need to be doing to ensure prompt, effective and thorough handling of the situation.
The Crisis Management Team
Usually the Crisis Management Team will consist of key directors, the company lawyers, PR agency/marketing team including social media, operations manager, and the Human Resources Team. All should be fully briefed and kept up to speed with developments as the situation develops. Ideally they should all be in close contact and where possible, meeting/speaking regularly.
The CEO - One voice
Usually the CEO will be the voice of the company during a crisis. His or her role will involve speaking to all forms of the media, broadcast, print and online and reinforcing the company’s key messages. It is not imperative that the CEO carries out this role but it does need to be someone who is knowledgeable about the business and sector, is comfortable in front of a camera and is ALWAYS fully briefed and prepared for the questions he/she is likely to be asked by the media.
Marketing and PR teams
The Marketing and PR Team should be monitoring media coverage as soon as the crisis breaks, and then quickly prepare a list of potential questions the spokesperson could face from the media. Answers should be drawn up and be crisp, concise and at all times reinforce the key messages the company wants to get across. Remember that a crisis can be viewed as an opportunity; the media are coming to you and wanting to hear from you so this is an opportunity to be heard. The teams should also constantly monitor media coverage and social media activity, if there is no social media team to do this instead, pinpointing opportunities and issues to report to the crisis team. They should all also be liaising with the company’s legal team throughout the duration of the crisis.
Directors and Human Resources
A key part of dealing with a crisis is keeping key stakeholders informed of developments. Ideally, this should be done concurrently with speaking to the media and the news should be delivered in a calm and reassuring way by a senior director, or a member of the team who has regular dialogue with a particular stakeholder. The Human Resources Team should keep the rest of the company up to date internally. This can be done via regular updates on the company website/internet, meetings or emails to the team.
Insurers should be high up on the list as to who needs to be kept informed. This is to ensure that any employers' liability or public liability insurance cover can be triggered, and that any obligations under the policy in terms of keeping insurers informed, are met.
Social Media Team
The social media policy and who controls it should already be in place, and during a crisis it is vital that this is monitored 24/7. The tone should be consistent and represent the stance of the company. The Social Media Team should be informed at the first available opportunity if there is any hint a crisis may be developing. That way they can monitor all platforms and alert management and the PR team to anything that requires immediate attention.
How we can help
DWF Crisis Response has all the expertise and experience to help you prepare for any business crisis, and it’s our goal to help you come out of it with your business and financial reputation intact. As well as being able to offer the very best legal advice and support to ensure peace of mind that you are compliant in the way in which you operate your business, we are also able to advise you on media management, helping you to develop your media containment strategy before it's ever needed.
Author: Cerys Wason, Tangerine PRThis information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.