Given the fact that I have two upcoming presentations on the topic of crisis communication, I have been wondering what actual companies do to prepare for a crisis, not just what they do when it occurs.
The more I research the more that I find that companies prepare way ahead of time for crises, and most companies have the same or similar planes of action.
First things first, companies need to imagine their worst-case scenarios. What are the worst things that can happen to your specific company?
Our team has decided that for Starbucks the worst-case scenarios are:
- Food safety
- Earthquake (Seattle… duh)
- NGOs decide to come after them
After the worst of the worst has been established companies need to figure out how they can be avoided if it is at all possible.
For example, food being handled safely is something that a company can do, they can prevent a foodborne illness. But, they cannot prevent an earthquake, however they can take precautions and be prepared for such an event.
Next, companies need to decide what their plan of action will be if one of these incidents do occur.
For example, if Starbucks had a breakout of e. coli, they would need to shut down that store immediately, and find out what caused the break out. Then they would need to recall this item.
Even prior to this, PR professionals need to choose and prepare spokespeople for each event that could possibly occur. That way everyone is prepared and will not make matters worse. They should know the do’s and don’ts when speaking to the press.
Companies should also have a sort of playbook when it comes to crises. Aka if X happens then the company follows steps 1,2,3. Press releases, social media posts, and speeches should be basically completed before any sort of crisis occurs.
All in all, companies should know what they will do if, and when a crisis occurs, because a crisis will occur. So, if you are reading this, but not really reading this, here is a list so sum up what and how a company should do to prepare for a crisis:
- Figure out worst case scenarios
- Create a crisis playbook
- Train spokespeople
- Practice your response
- Practice again
- And again