The catastrophic earthquake/tsunami in Japan occurred while Libya was exploding into civil war. And that event followed closely the citizen uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain and Tunisia. Now the Saudis have entered Bahrain to protect the Sunni monarchy, adding to an already tense situation in the Middle East.
These somewhat simultaneous world events should remind companies, particularly those with people and offices across continents, to be more prepared than ever to Monitor-Act-Speak (MAS) when multiple humanitarian disasters strike.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the three actions I recommend for organizations that want to fine-tune their approach to crisis management if faced with simultaneous crises:
1) Monitor — Must have intelligence gathering capabilities and the right tools/technology to closely monitor fast-breaking developments in real time.
2) Act – Must have a fluid crisis management plan that can quickly be placed into action. It should identify members of the crisis management team and delineate the responsibilities of each member for a wide variety of crisis scenarios. Example: Someone will have authority to make all decisions relating to rescue and/or protection of employees and business assets in danger zones.
3) Speak – Using traditional media but especially social media like Twitter, Facebook & YouTube, a company must respond 24/7 to media/blogger inquiries as well as the concerns of a company’s critical audiences (employees/loved ones, customers/clients, government officials, investors, etc.). “Speak” also means “write” — so any backgrounders, fact sheets, press releases and social media posts that can be prepared in advance will make it easier to navigate a serious crisis. Spokespeople previously designated should have access to live video tools like Skype, iChat, Facetime, UStream, Justin.TV and Google Chat. This will allow critical audiences to actually see and hear from the “face” of the company, which helps an organization to build/rebuild trust much faster. But that’s assuming the written and spoken messages put out by the company are entirely credible. In addition, most of these “apps” are available on a growing list of mobile devices.
For more information about crisis management/crisis communications and social media, please visit:
My colleague, Jonathan Bernstein, also has some great information at http://www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com/.