Tips for Handling Crisis

By Linda Henman, Ph.D.

  1. Since most crises take a company or project manager by surprise, have a crisis management plan that kicks in automatically. In the plan, outline who will talk to the media, under what conditions, and who will respond if the designated person is not available.
  2. In case the crisis involves you, make sure others on your team can address responsibilities, whether or not you are in the picture.
  3. Create established channels for internal communication.  Communicate with members of the team through email, face-to-face discussion, or letters. Let them know which to expect, and test them when necessary.
  4. Try to minimize the lag time between the first signs of trouble and an appropriate response. The sooner you present the facts, the sooner the rumors disappear. Bad news never gets better with age.
  5. Don’t respond to unfounded stories.  It only gives them credibility.
  6. Establish a relationship with a PR firm before you face a crisis so they will know enough about your business to give you solid advice.
  7. Think about a “crisis drill” the way you would a fire drill.  Have a plan, communicate it, and then practice it when people aren’t expecting it to happen.
  8. Before crisis strikes, build a strong reputation for social responsibility in the community and trust among the members of your team. Trying to back peddle during the crisis can never have the same effect that proactive efforts produce.

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