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Issue Date: January 2005

How to handle a crisis in your business

1 January 2005

Repucomm, an independent reputation management and crisis management firm, has released "The Crisis Manager Toolkit", in a move designed to assist companies with their crisis management preplanning.
Years and years of experience have proven that the companies who cope the best with crises of all kinds are those who are prepared to deal with the hand of fate. Those companies who have set in motion processes to minimise potential crises. Companies who cope successfully with crises are normally companies who have a predetermined plan of action, including communication response plans. The toolkit is a useful resource that can assist any manager in this phase and during a crisis, and can serve as a benchmarking instrument.
The Crisis Manager toolkit consists of a CD that contains useful information such as the following:
* A step by step workbook as well as guidelines for compiling and writing a crisis management and communication response plan.

* Detailed questionnaires and checklists to prompt thinking processes whilst planning and preparing response plans.

* Various guidelines and tip sheets ranging from stakeholder communication templates to dealing with the Media tips sheets.

* Handy templates and forms.

* A Copy of a PowerPoint presentation that can be customised for internal training and information sharing use with the Board, executives and staff.
Why a toolkit?
Recent media reports and other business and natural disasters have again just illustrated the need for companies to plan for all eventualities, including the communication challenges that are created during these eventualities. The actual process of emergency planning and crises communication management is a vital one if companies want to safeguard their assets, minimise their risks and uphold their hard-earned reputation.
Crises management is defined as the ability of an organisation to deal quickly, efficiently, and effectively with contingency operations with the goal of reducing the threat to human health and safety, the loss of public or corporate property, adverse impact on normal business continuance, and damage to its good name - its reputation.
Here is a quick questionnaire from the toolkit:
1. Have you developed a clearly defined crises management plan with adequate responses?
2. Have you made a 'worst case list' recently of what could happen to your organisation?
3. Have you a written plan in place, up to date and circulated and accepted by all stakeholders?
4. Have you conducted a dry run of the preparedness of your plan?
5. How long will it take you to enact your plan, from the moment a crisis takes place, until your plan 'kicks' in?
6. Does your plan contain a plan of action for what would happen if an Aids infected employee turned up in the cafeteria and most employees refused to come to work? (Just a scenario)
7. Have you appointed and trained spokespersons (and backups) that will communicate with all stakeholders if a crisis should occur?
8. Have you arranged and got approval for CEO's actions and statements in an emergency?
9. Have you assigned organisational spokespersons and alternatives on a 24-hour, 7-day duty (Until done)?
10. Have you benchmarked your emergency and crisis communication procedures vs the rest of competitors in your industry?
11. Have you had your spokespersons trained in media interviews and other communication techniques?
12. Have you prepared alternate plans, with added specifications for each category (The plan for an explosion is not the same as that of a wildcat strike)?
13. Have you legally complied with all the necessary legislation that can impact on the organisation in time of crises? Acts such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Promotion of Disclosure of Information Act etc?
14. Have you clearly defined and identified the circumstances that deserve the label of problems, disaster, emergency or catastrophe?
15. Have you assigned crises designation decisions to a specific person or group of persons?
16. Have these people received specific and adequate training so that they will know what to do?
17. Have you created a policy manual, a how-to-manual on developing and implementing a crisis communication plan and circulated it to all concerned, and have they verified their understanding of the contents?
18. Have you determined the competencies needed to communicate effectively in a crisis eg public speaking, meeting skills, press conference question handling, writing skills and planning strategies?
To order the Toolkit, contact Deon Binneman on 011 4753515 or 083 425 4318 or e-mail at deonbin@icon.co.za


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