How to prevent a crisis from escalating

It is believed that there is a crisis unfolding every single day somewhere in the world. Crisis management is an activity we hope we will never need and yet like the fire extinguishers in every nook and corner of an office, a ready to use crisis plan needs to be in place during an emergency.

A majority of the crisis are covered up, squashed, stamped upon and some of them blow the lids of Corporates and even Governments.

India has had its share of crisis be it the Enron disaster, Oil spills near the Chennai coast, Satyam frauds, IL&FS woes and many more. Though the learnings are many for communication professionals especially, the business houses just keep asking for more.

What we are going to share here is how you should react when a crisis unfolds and what steps are to be taken to stop the crisis from escalating.

1. Be calm. Assess the situation. Be the leader (if you are not one) and step in when the leadership team is unavailable to handle the same.
2. Address the employees internally. Never hide facts for it will eventually come out and it can make you look bad. Leaks are inevitable.
3. Take the core team into confidence and make them your pillars of strength. Be prepared for working late hours and stress will be a part of the first week or so.
4. Every call, mail or post that you receive, has to be addressed courteously and with fact. Words can be twisted and blown out of proportion that will result in negative news and further escalate the crisis.
5. Be honest with the media. Be it with the print, digital or television, stick to facts and it will help you in the long run. Make them your friends.
6. Be ready for any eventuality and be quick enough to act rather than react.
Lastly, every company should prepare a crisis manual. It should contain the details of various forms of crisis expected and people responsible for handling (department wise). Also it should contain general helpdesk numbers like POLICE, FIRE, AMBULANCE, POLICE STATION, LAWYER, DOCTOR etc.
Also, it should conduct a CRISIS management briefing, prior to the crisis, if it expects any such one in the near future.

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