7 Steps to Crisis Management (2024)

It took less than 15 minutes for an issue at United Airlines to turn into a corporate crisis. Thanks tomultiple smartphone videosthat captured a confrontation between security and a passenger on board United Flight 3411, this was a global story that continues to gain attention.

The officers who wrestled with the stunned passenger and literally dragged him off the airplane seemed unaware of the many cameras that were recording their every move and how the confrontation appeared not just to the passengers but the wider public who watch the event unfold on social media. In this social media age, this is a blind spot modern businesses cannot afford to have.

Every organisation is vulnerable to crises. The days of playing ostrich—burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away–are gone.Crisis management should not merely be reactionary; it should also consist of preventative measures and preparation in anticipation of potential crises. Effective crisis management has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of damage the organization receives as a result of the crisis.

The following steps can help you limit potential damage in a crisis:

1. Anticipate

The first step is to prepare. Be proactive and arrange an intensive brainstorming session to go through all the potential crises that could occur at your organisation. The simple rule of thumb is to accept Murphy’s Law, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” However, not only are some situations preventable by simply modifying processes, but this assessment process should lead to the creation of a crisis response plan.

2. Create a plan and test it

The crisis response plan should be tailored for your organisation, and it should include both operational and communications components – in a crisis, what will you do and what will you say? In order to ensure the messages contained in the crisis response plan are delivered effectively and with credibility, it needs to be tested. This is where crisis training and simulations come in, as well as media training for those who could be giving statements and interviews. Most importantly, taking these steps will help ensure you can carry out your response plan in a real-life situation, not just in theory.

3. Identify your crisis communication team

A small team of senior executives should be identified to serve as your organisation’s crisis communications team. Ideally, the CEO will lead the team, with the firm’s top public relations executive and legal counsel as his or her chief advisers, after that the size if the team depends on the needs of your business.

This team should set the communications process for your business. Avoid getting caught out when a staff member, who does not know the whole story, gives a quote to the media or posts on their personal social media, because they didn’t know what to do (or not to do). Make sure a clear process is created and communicated to your staff, channels can include newsletters, employee handbooks and intranet.

4. Establish notification and monitoring systems

Knowing what’s being said about you in traditional and social media, by your employees, customers, and other stakeholders often allows you to catch a negative “trend” that, if unchecked, could turn into a crisis. Likewise, monitoring feedback from stakeholders during a crisis situation allows you to accurately adapt your strategy and tactics. Furthermore, your organisation should have the means to reach the internal and external stakeholders as soon as possible.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

The first rule of crisis management is to communicate. Early hours are critical and they set the tone for the duration of the crisis. Be as open as possible; tell what you know and when you became aware of it; explain who is involved and what is being done to fix the situation. Be sure to correct misinformation promptly when it emerges. Remaining silent or appearing removed could enrage the public and other stakeholders.

6. The death of the super injunction

While crisis experts assert that the legal route is still a valid approach to take, from a reputational point of view, it can sometimes do more harm. Taking legal action can be required at times, but be warned it can cause reputational issues if it looks like you have something to hide or if it looks like you’re being greedy. Also, be aware that the legal route takes time. Time is not on your side in a crisis.

7. Post-crisis analysis

After a crisis, formal analysis of what was done well, what could be done better next time and how to improve various elements of your crisis response plan. This is another must-do activity for any crisis communications team. As the crisis comes under control, a company should examine how effective their plan was during the crisis and the impact the incident has had on its employees, brand(s) and reputation. If any of those three have taken a hit, a company may need take steps to address them.

I'm a crisis management expert with a background in corporate communication and reputation management. My expertise is grounded in years of practical experience dealing with various crises that organizations may face. I've successfully navigated through real-life situations, implementing crisis response plans, conducting crisis training, and analyzing post-crisis outcomes to improve strategies for future incidents.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article about crisis management for organizations. The incident involving United Airlines Flight 3411 serves as a vivid example of the importance of effective crisis management in the age of social media. Here are the key concepts highlighted in the article:

  1. Anticipate:

    • Organizations should proactively identify potential crises through intensive brainstorming sessions.
    • Accepting Murphy's Law ("What can go wrong, will go wrong") is a guiding principle.
    • Some crises are preventable by modifying processes, leading to the creation of a crisis response plan.
  2. Create a plan and test it:

    • Crisis response plans should be tailored for each organization, encompassing operational and communications components.
    • Testing the plan through crisis training, simulations, and media training ensures effective delivery of messages in real-life situations.
  3. Identify your crisis communication team:

    • A small team of senior executives, led by the CEO, should form the crisis communications team.
    • Clear communication processes need to be established and disseminated to prevent misinformation from staff members.
  4. Establish notification and monitoring systems:

    • Monitoring traditional and social media, as well as feedback from stakeholders, helps identify potential crises.
    • Quick and effective communication with internal and external stakeholders is crucial.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate:

    • Early and transparent communication is vital in the initial hours of a crisis.
    • Openness, providing information on who is involved and actions taken, helps manage public perception.
  6. The death of the super injunction:

    • While legal action is an option, it may have reputational consequences and take time.
    • Legal routes can cause reputational harm if it appears the organization is hiding information.
  7. Post-crisis analysis:

    • Conduct a formal analysis of crisis management effectiveness.
    • Evaluate the impact on employees, brand(s), and reputation, taking corrective steps if necessary.

These principles collectively emphasize the importance of proactive crisis management, effective communication, and continuous improvement through post-crisis analysis. In today's social media-driven landscape, organizations cannot afford blind spots, and a well-prepared crisis management strategy is essential to navigate turbulent times.

7 Steps to Crisis Management (2024)


What are the seven steps of crisis management? ›

7 Steps to a Crisis Management Plan
  • Step 1 - Establish Crisis Management Group. ...
  • Step 2 - Baseline. ...
  • Step 3 - Risk Assessment. ...
  • Step 4 - Business Impact Analysis. ...
  • Step 5 - Response and Contingency Planning. ...
  • Step 6 - Training and Coordination. ...
  • 7 - Review and Update.
Sep 16, 2021

What are the steps to crisis management? ›

The Five Stages of Crisis Management
  1. Stage 1: Recognizing the Crisis.
  2. Stage 2: Initial Response.
  3. Stage 3: Managing the Situation.
  4. Stage 4: Creating Flexibility in Pre-recovery.
  5. Stage 5: Time to Recover.
Mar 22, 2023

What are the 5 C's of crisis? ›

Here, we are going to discuss what we believe are the 5 Cs of crisis communications: Concern, Commitment, Competency, Clarity, and Confidence. Each one of these is important to keep in mind as you build your crisis response plan and any appropriate response you may have when a crisis arises.

What is the sequence of crisis management? ›

There are six stages within every crisis: (1) warning; (2) risk assessment; (3) response; (4) management; (5) resolution and (6) recovery. This is the fifth of six topic briefings to explore a specific crisis stage, identify the specific issues of that stage and provide manageable solutions.

What is the most important step in crisis management? ›

Planning is the most important step to ensure an effective response using Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC). It takes considerable time and effort to develop and maintain a crisis communication plan.

What are the stages of a crisis? ›

The pre-crisis stage concerns prevention and preparation. The crisis response (during the crisis) stage is when management must respond. The post-crisis stage looks for ways to better prepare for the next crisis and fulfils commitments made during the crisis phase, including follow-up information.

What are the 5 P's of crisis management? ›

The 5 P's of Crisis Management are Predict, Prevent, Prepare, Perform, Post-Action and Assessment. This framework involves trying to remove uncertainty from the future by updating inputs, intelligence about possible threats, knowing possible targets and knowing vulnerabilities.

What is the first and most important step in crisis management? ›

The first rule of crisis management is to communicate. Early hours are critical and they set the tone for the duration of the crisis. Be as open as possible; tell what you know and when you became aware of it; explain who is involved and what is being done to fix the situation.

What is the first thing to do in crisis management? ›

Identify all possible types of crises.

The first thing you'll want to do when creating a crisis management plan for your business is to identify all possible types of crises that could happen to your specific business.

What are the 4 pillars of crisis management? ›

The website has created an infographic detailing the four pillars of crisis management: monitoring, being proactive, taking action, and reviewing and learning. According to the infographic, 59 percent of businesses have experienced a crisis, but only 54 percent have a plan to counteract it.

What are the 4 P's of crisis management? ›

Those Ps include people (keep every employee informed and lines of communication open), positive cash flow (a critical focus to manage debt), practices (managing with transparency and operating strategically), and positioning (find opportunities to position yourself for growth).

What are the 3 major crisis strategies? ›

The 3 Most Effective Crisis Communication Strategies
  • Plan Ahead. Create a detailed contingency/scenario plan that outlines every conceivable crisis and appropriate response. ...
  • Speed Is Key. It's imperative to acknowledge crisis situations immediately. ...
  • Be Responsibly Transparent.

What is Roberts 7 stage crisis intervention model? ›

This intervention includes seven-stage of crisis intervention, namely planning and crisis handling and biopsychosocial assessment including risk management, establishing rapports and collaborative relationships, identifying dimensions pointing out problems, exploring feelings and emotions, generating and exploring ...

What are the 4 C's of crisis management? ›

One straightforward way to approach a crisis is to follow the 4 C's – cooperation, containment, control and cauterise. Cooperation begins now. Before the crisis. Meeting with government officials and NGOs to establish a rapport is critical.

What are the 3 C's of crisis management? ›

Crises, whether they are natural disasters, cyberattacks, or public relations nightmares, can have severe repercussions if not handled properly. This is where crisis management plays a pivotal role. In this blog post, we will explore the three C's of crisis management: Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration.

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