During the life of your business or organization, a crisis will probably occur. You could be looking at a cyber breach, a chemical spill, a fire, a natural disaster, or something else that causes severe disruption. It’s not a question of if, but instead when.
Have you tested your ability to respond to a crisis? There are measures you can take to prepare before, during, and after a crisis. Use this checklist as a foundation for developing your organization’s crisis management.
Before the Crisis
1. Map Out Possible Scenarios - What could go wrong? It’s important to catastrophize a little bit, for planning purposes. If you operate an oil and gas facility, spills, fires, and hazardous waste can cause problems. If you’re in a corporate office working with sensitive data, you could be hacked. If you work for the government, you could be disrupted by political upheaval or an attempt to cause problems from a foreign adversary. What problems are unique to your field, and to your organization? Brainstorm general worst-case scenarios, and general responses to them.
2. Choose Your Key Personnel - Everyone in your organization should know who to turn to in the event of a disaster. From communicating with the media to carrying out emergency response coordination to safety protocols and machine operation, you’ll need designated point people. Subject matter experts will disperse as needed when disaster strikes. Choose those key people, and make sure everyone is aware of who they are.
3. Anticipate Difficult Questions - If your disaster has an impact on the community, be prepared to face scrutiny. Think of questions that media members and community members might pose. Have your spokespeople practice a coordinated response. You want to make sure you’re using careful language - poorly chosen words can be inflammatory in high-pressure situations.
During the Crisis
4. Gather Information - Don’t rely on manual input alone to gather information. You want to make informed decisions, even when trying to move quickly. Through networked crisis communication platforms like Blackberry AtHoc, you can make sure that you’re getting the most accurate information and it’s being routinely updated.
5. Develop Your Messaging Plan - Create messages based on previously-drafted templates or clear, simple wording. Systems like AtHoc Alert can preconfigure scenarios and messaging to expedite alerts. You’ll need a coordinated communications response, and the earlier you get ahead of it, the better off you’ll be.
6. Control Information Flow - If a crisis is only hitting certain parts of your organization, you don’t need to create mass panic. Choose specific networks for messaging and action, and leave out those that don’t need to be involved. Have a centralized messaging center so that conflicting reports don’t make their way into anyone’s hands, causing confusion and delay.
7. Involve Emergency Officials - Make sure to involve emergency officials when necessary. Make sure to follow all of their directions and suggestions. You can also have designated people who are accustomed to briefing external organizations, so that necessary information is communicated on time.
8. Respond to External Inquiries Quickly - If you’re getting questions from the community and the media, make sure you answer them as soon as possible. You’ll be going a long way to preserve your reputation if you’re candid, transparent, and communicative.
After the Crisis
9. Review What Happened - Could you stop the crisis from occurring again? If the crisis were to happen again, what would you do differently?
10. Examine Your Response - Reflect on your organizational response, and highlight what went well in addition to what went wrong.
How does your organization measure up? Do you have a crisis communication strategy in place? Have you thought of all of the details? Networked crisis management platforms can be your best friend for disaster preparedness of all sorts. The Blackberry AtHoc Suite can provide integrated applications that connect users, organizations, and devices globally. In vulnerable times, integration is what saves your organization from mishandling disasters.
BlackBerry AtHoc leverages the power of mobility, the hybrid cloud and the IP network to deliver a unified and secure end-to-end solution capable of real-time collaboration with anyone, anywhere and across virtually any device.
Disasters, crises, and disruptions are, by nature, a surprise. While you won’t be able to fully control their occurrence, you can take great strides toward controlling your response. The more you plan in advance, the more likely you are to implement organizational resilience.