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What do I do when ...

A crisis hits?

June 25, 2010
By Christine K. Jahnke

A crisis hits?

A crisis event immediately disrupts normal organization or company operations. During a time of chaos, it is especially important to keep the communication lines open. Employees, colleagues, and the community at large must know that the crisis event is being dealt with proactively. The ability to communicate quickly and accurately will later be judged by internal and external audiences. Perceptions formed early on will significantly impact the ability to carry out future activities.

    • Communicate concern for the victims and their families.Talk about what is being done to comfort and aid them. Don't over promise.
    • Share factual information. Only discuss what has been confirmed. Never speculate, estimate, or guess.
    • Explain the action plan. Tell how the problem has been contained. Detail the effectiveness of early warning policies or procedures. Describe ongoing proactive steps and future plans.

The Chinese symbol for crisis, seen at right, is composed of two elements—danger and opportunity. Every crisis event generates fear and the possibility of permanent damage. There is also the possibility of a positive outcome. A strong communications plan is key to weathering a gale storm.

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