Fred Baggs and Bob Dittmer, two seasoned public relations colleagues of mine, have managed many issues and crises over their careers. So the information I share with you isn’t mine exclusively; however, I learned much from these guys. And you will too.
The last entries in this crisis and issue management series have covered what to do with an issue before it becomes a crisis. You have also learned the life cycle of an issue, the difference between these, and an emergency. And, in our most recent entry, I laid out a plan to manage these things.
But there’s more.
Crises are particularly nasty and unpredictable. Needless to say, they will also change the very fabric of how your organization does business. They are game changers, and because of that, there are several traits of a crisis you should know:
- Expect to be surprised, because a crisis is an even that unfolds over time and is triggered by an unexpected event.
- Anticipate having insufficient information as the crisis unfolds.
- Understand that in the midst of a crisis, the situation will escalate before it recedes, and realize that people in the organization (perhaps, even you) will feel out of control.
- Believe and prepare for the public, government and media to increase their scrutiny on your organization and how it is managing the crisis. All eyes will be on you to perform. Hopefully with honor.
- Embrace that, as the crisis comes to a close, your organization (perhaps an entire industry’s) reputation and how it does business will be threatened and changed.
- Be aware that a crisis will challenge human, physical and financial resources. This is gonna hurt, pal.
A crisis at its onset is beyond the control of everyday management practice. It is urgent. As Fred Bagg would say, “You can’t wait until next week to deal with this.”