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Crisis planning is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but an ounce of prevention is worth it when you are faced with a crisis.

Here are 10 things to think about as you prepare for a possible crisis:

  1. Where is your organization vulnerable? Talk to employees, managers, and executives to learn what keeps them up at night. Then, plan what to do if those events happen.
  2. Who are your stakeholders? Who will be looking for a response from your company? It will depend on the crisis, but don’t forget employees, customers, vendors, and investors, as well as stockholders.
  3. Select your crisis team. Again, some members will depend on the type of crisis, like a data breach, product recall, or a sexual harassment claim. Who are your outside experts? Are your conversations protected by attorney-client privilege? Do you want them to be?
  4. Choose the right spokesperson. This person should have media training, be comfortable accepting criticism, express compassion, and stay calm under questioning. It does not need to be the CEO.
  5. Train all employees from day one of their employment on what to do if they are approached by the media or if there is a crisis. Then remind them regularly (especially if you know a crisis is brewing). When a crisis hits, they will know where to turn.
  6. Prepare skeleton statements that you can adapt to your current situation and issue quickly. Silence is not a good option, and neither is “no comment.” Better to say that your company values safety (or data security or its employees) and you will provide updates on your website when you have more information. Then follow through.
  7. Talk to your public-facing employees about what to say and do if the media approaches them. These are receptionists, security guards, and others who greet the public. Help them with a statement if that makes them more comfortable and avoid an incident with a camera.
  8. Flow communications through one channel. Don’t forget your web and social media teams: Everyone should be going to the crisis team as the information source. You don’t want scheduled posts going up that distract from your consistent messaging (or may send the message that you don’t care).
  9. Paying attention to social media allows you to monitor and respond in real time to feedback and correct errors. Social media is a go-to source for many journalists and the public, so it’s a good place to communicate with many of your stakeholders.
  10. After the crisis is over, do an evaluation. What went well? What did not go well? Where could improvements be made? Adjust your plan to make improvements, and give credit to those who did well.

Contact your favorite employment lawyer to work on a crisis plan (or talk about California’s new law requiring employers to have a workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2024) or any other upcoming issues.