Having a digital presence is becoming more and more important for businesses these days. When making the decision to move into the digital space, you need to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that could impact your business’ financial standing, reputation and assets.

That’s where a crisis management plan needs to be accessible. Crisis management is the process your business should follow to deal with a sudden situation that could threaten, affect or harm your organisation.

Image of a crisis management plan

Examples of a crisis can be:

  • Natural disasters;
  • Cyber-attacks;
  • Misdeeds;
  • Financial crimes or distress;
  • Technological or industrial threats;
  • Supply chain failure;
  • Reputation-damaging fraud;
  • Product safety or recall;
  • Staffing matters (strikes);
  • Environmental;
  • Disclosure issues.

A crisis management document allows your business to act quickly and provide responses to these situations if they were to occur. The documented strategy should highlight scenarios, their risk level, the tone of voice of the content, examples of content and legally approved responses for your team to reference.

It should also include clear roles and responsibilities for appropriate stakeholders, as well as the formal process that should be followed. The overall risk level rating of the content related to the crisis should also feature within the document.

An example of risk level ratings is:

  • 1 = positive;
  • 2 = neutral;
  • 3 = negative and respond;
  • 4 = negative and remove;
  • 5 = crisis.

Image of a crisis management strategy

If an incident does occur, communication on your business’ website or social media accounts can turn negative, especially in a crisis or socially sensitive situations. This is when your business is at its most vulnerable – that is why a pre-determined response is important because time is critical.

When developing the initial crisis management document, create a number of different scenarios along with a pre-prepared response to each. By having these created and approved by relevant stakeholders, it allows your response time to be extremely quick and effective.

Along with this, every scenario needs an escalation process. This highlights the correct stakeholders that should be contacted when a conversation fuelled by negativity is targeted towards your business.

These stakeholders can be higher management or legal teams. And in the case of staff movements, this document should be updated regularly to avoid a mishap in the case of a crisis.

Being prepared for a crisis is important, however, you must be across everything happening in relation to your industry, competitors and most importantly your business. By monitoring this daily, it reduces the risk of a crisis developing and turning critical.

To stay on top of the content surrounding your business, monitor your social media accounts, as well as other websites. To make this task easier, there are online tools available to track and monitor conversations involving your business and services.

Some of these tools are Meltwater, Buzzsumo and The Brand Grader. Within these programs, you select the keywords you want to track, allowing them to form a report with all of the conversations based on them. An example of these keywords can be Incremental or Incremental Marketing.

Overall, a crisis management strategy is pivotal for all businesses who develop a presence online. A well-documented and planned crisis management strategy can help eliminate the effect a scenario has on your business thanks to its quick response time and reply.