What Would You Do in a Crisis?

Edward Segal, CAE, contributed today’s post. He helps publishers and associations generate publicity about their events and activities.

How would you handle these scenarios?

  • Hackers have taken control of your organization’s website, posting content on the home page and stealing confidential data about customers. If you do not pay a ransom within 24-hours, they threaten to release to the public embarrassing and damaging information from the hacked computer files.

  • Several female employees allege that a member of your board of directors has sexually assaulted them. Other women had filed similar charges against the same board member over the past five years.

  • As you listen to the radio during your drive home after a long day at work, there is a news bulletin that a gunman has killed at least nine people at your trade show.

  • These and scores of other worst-case crisis scenarios can be more than hypothetical events. They can turn into real “Oh, my God!” moments that, if not properly and effectively managed, will threaten the image, reputation and brand of your organization; put your organization at legal risk; and jeopardize your bottom line.

    Here are some key questions to consider about your risk and exposure to a crisis:

    Are you in denial? The Crisis Hall of Fame is filled with those who were faced with unexpected natural disasters (the recent hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico or the wildfires in California), human caused tragedies (the shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Bernardino); hacked customer files (Equifax, Yahoo, and Anthem health insurance), and customer-service fiascos (pick a major airline), to name just a few. Think it can’t happen to you or that you have plenty of time to prepare later? Think again.

    Are you really ready? Have you done everything possible to ensure you are prepared for when a crisis hits? The multi-billion dollar MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, had to hire an outside public relations firms to help manage the aftermath of the recent shootings there.
    If an international conglomerate needs help in a crisis, what message does that send about your own readiness?

    Do you assume too much? Don’t think that an emergency won’t happen after business hours, on the weekend or a holiday, or when you and other key players are out of town, on vacation, sick, or inaccessible.
    What others assumptions do you or your team have that would make it harder to respond to and manage an emergency?

    What can you learn from others?
    With all-too-many examples in the news to choose from, study the good, the bad, and ugly ways others have responded to and managed their crisis. It’s obviously better to learn from the mistakes of others than to make the same mistakes on your own.

    What are you waiting for? Given the obvious importance of properly preparing for a crisis that could throw your organization into turmoil or a tail spin, why wait until it’s too late?

    Edward Segal is a crisis management and communications expert, PR consultant, spokesperson, trainer and former CEO and communications director of trade associations. Edward offers a one-day crisis management workshop he can bring to your organization. Reach him through his website at www.PublicRelations.com.

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