A well prepared communications professional can face a steep challenge when blindsided by a crisis. Even if you have a response plan, you may need extra eyes, ears, and hands during the first stage of a crisis. If you are trying to decide whether to bring in outside help or not, make sure you are still actively involved in monitoring the speed and sentiment of the event. Before you panic, here are some initial suggestions on how to handle a crisis that is bigger than you.
Be Ready In-House
Many of the initial tasks that a crisis produces can be handled by an in-house team with minimum training. Train people for your team that multi-task well and won’t fold under the pressure of real-time demands. At the first sign of a negative event, activate your in-house protocols.
Start Monitoring Immediately
Make sure you have an online monitoring system set up and activated. If you have a well-developed triage response plan, you can set up a monitoring crew that funnels important messages and posts to the proper people on the communications team. You should have a basic listening dashboard set up before the crisis that your team can get immediate access to in the event of a crisis. Make sure you are tracking sentiment and escalation and watching for key influencers and detractors.
Your team should have assigned listening tasks that include the following:
- Monitor social channels for legitimate questions and send them to the proper person for answering. This team member should have access to all the public information on the event and the authority to answer basic questions that don’t require attention from the crisis team.
- Monitor sentiment. Identify and keep track of the positive and negative influencers.
- Train your in-house team to listen to the important conversations.
- Have regular reporting templates and schedules for follow-up with team members.
The bottom line: A good crisis response plan can help prepare your organization to handle some of the most important tasks in a crisis leaving the leadership free to deal with the crisis.
I also recommend having the phone numbers handy of good crisis management agencies that can help you respond to an event that needs outside help. Experienced crisis professionals can help you mitigate an event faster, with less reputation and bottom line loss. And most offer an initial free consultation. The CKSyme.org team has real-time crisis experience, and, we have connections with other agencies that have specialties in multiple areas. We can help you analyze your need for outside help and make sure to connect you with the help you need quickly.