Advance preparation work may not be the most glamorous project on your “to-do” list this year but it will pay dividends for a corporate brand and long-term health of a company when the inevitable day comes for a crisis plan to be activated.

In fact, advance preparation is the key to any crisis management success.  Without a good plan ready to be deployed when circumstances demand, a company will be playing catch-up from the outset of a crisis and will lose valuable time in the crucial early stages of a crisis while devising a game plan.

When crisis strikes a company, it must be managed in a holistic way that involves not only legal strategy but also the management of business concerns and the emotions of the many parties affected by the crisis – such as employees, suppliers, vendors, distributors and customers.  The truth is that every one of those constituencies has a tremendous impact on the way the company’s brand is perceived, which is a long-term predictor of corporate success that goes far beyond any one lawsuit or legal dispute.


STEP 1: Make a commitment to develop and implement a crisis management plan before a crisis hits.

STEP 2: Create a crisis management team, including outside legal counsel and public relations professionals, and define specific roles and responsibilities for each member.  Assemble the team regularly to cultivate a comfortable working relationship.

STEP 3: Conduct crisis drills at least once per year with all team members exercising the responsibilities they are expected to carry out when a crisis happens.

STEP 4:  Obtain media training for top executives and crisis team members.

STEP 5: Make and maintain media contacts who can be instrumental in distributing company messages.  Keep an updated short list of key reporters and producers of importance to your company, locally and/or nationally.

STEP 6: Establish appropriate communication channels with employees so you can get urgent news and information out to them quickly.

STEP 7:  Prepare generic positive messaging statements that can be rolled out in the early public hours of a crisis.  This is critical during the early stage of the crisis when the company has the most control over the event and the brand.

STEP 8:  Prepare press releases and talking points in advance of key events for both a good outcome and a bad outcome in legal proceedings, investigations, legislative developments, etc.  Determine how the company is perceived by the public and keep that image in mind when crafting media communications so they feel more authentic.

STEP 9:  Get all digital tactics in place in advance – perhaps a “dark” online microsite that can be activated when needed.

STEP 10:  Document and distribute the crisis management plan to the team so it is ready to be activated when needed.

In following these steps to prepare for the eventuality of a crisis, it is critically important to focus on the long-term health of the business at all times and the interests of its most important constituencies.  For more information, please contact Thomas J. Walsh, Jr. (twalsh@brodywilk.com).  

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