Deflategate. The St. Louis Cardinals hacking scandal. Lululemon and see through yoga pants.
In the age of social media and catastrophes taking front and center stage in the media, it’s pretty safe to say that if your organization encounters a crisis then your clients and constituents are going to find out about it. If you haven’t developed a crisis management plan to prepare for the worst, then you better not consider it “handled.”
I akin crisis management to rental insurance. It’s an afterthought and you are too busy to deal with it until all of a sudden your apartment floods and the home you have built over the course of your mid-to-late twenties is completely ruined. It’s the same with your business. You are too busy trying to grow and manage your business to plan for what you would do if there were a crisis to ruin it.
Don’t worry. If you haven’t taken the time to develop a crisis management plan and crisis communication plan you are not alone. West Monroe Partners has stepped in with many a client to become their Olivia Pope and manage crises. It can be difficult to know where to begin, but West Monroe can give you some steps to help you get started:
1. Listen. The first thing you can do is listen and attempt to understand what the actual crisis is. Most people want to jump to react quickly, and they do not understand the full implications of the first response.
2. Interpret. Sometimes it is not the act of the crisis itself that damages you. It will be the effect that crisis has on your perceived brand, reputation, product… you name it. Interpret the crisis and develop actionable steps to get to address the core of the issue.
3. Prepare and React. As I eluded to previously, preparing is the most vital part to handling a crisis. Preparing the steps to your reaction can prevent rework and new risks and issues from popping up. When reacting, give your commitment to seeing the crisis through to resolution and doing what it takes to help prevent any missteps in the future.
4. Monitor. Resolving a crisis does not necessarily gain the trust and loyalty back to your organization. Monitoring and constantly ensuring ongoing optimization will be what wins back the trust and loyalty that may have been lost.
It’s a good time to start thinking about how you would handle worst case scenarios at your organization. If you don’t have an Olivia Pope, then it might be a good idea to ask West Monroe to handle it.