The Failure of Crisis Response on the Fly

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Here’s a trip in the Wayback Machine to one of the most popular posts on in 2012.

The biggest challenge in crisis management is trying to develop a response strategy on the fly. Our decision-making process can be hampered by charged emotions and a finger-pointing public clamoring for information. Add a pesky media, both online and offline, and you have a recipe for disaster.  

The best crisis communications strategy is comprehensive and ongoing. The real-time response to crisis is just one piece of that strategy. In the past weeks, I’ve been discussing the first two pieces of that comprehensive strategy outlined in my e-book Listen, Engage, Respond.  Over the coming weeks, I’ll take a look at the final portion of the strategy: Respond.

If you have successfully employed listening and engagement strategies in the social media space, you have the basic foundation for using social media successfully in a crisis. Successful organizations plan for crisis by becoming active in the social space now, building a corps of advocates that will partner with you in a crisis.

There are several benefits to having a crisis communications plan in place before a crisis.

  • Protocols are defined by best practices, research, and organizational culture, not based on emotions and reactions in real-time.
  • Staff roles are defined and delineated for smooth, real-time implementation.
  • Staff can be trained and agencies can be contacted so the organization can “hit the ground running” in the event of an emergency.
  • Leadership and spokesperson roles can be defined and media training provided to ensure confidence in public communication.
  • Operations can be integrated with communications so the right and left hand can work together.
  • Organizations that plan and train for a crisis incur less loss and can mitigate a crisis faster than those who do not.

Have you got a comprehensive crisis communications plan in place? Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at what a successful crisis response plan looks like. In the meantime, I encourage you to consider building that foundation of establishing an effective listening program and developing social media engagement strategies that foster advocacy. Plan now, or pay later.