Memo to Crisis Managers–Forget Control; Think Engagement

Memo to Crisis Managers--Forget Control; Think EngagementThe drama unfolding in the Gulf should send a strong message that the old playbook is inadequate for the social 24/7 always-on media.

What’s still important:  having a crisis plan. It can be as simple as a flow chart:  How will you marshal your resources? Do you have a crisis webpage ready to go live when the crisis hits? Do you have well-defined process, a central point of contact for responding and making decisions?

Begin by developing a set of principles.  Live by them.  Then, listen, engage and move forward with transparency.

While you want to be flexible about engaging and solving the problem, a number of key elements should already be in place:  Do you have contacts lined up at the key stakeholders and influencer groups expected to be impacted in your crisis scenarios? And more important, do you have relationships with these stakeholders so that you can reach out to them early in the crisis to get input and help? Do you have internal contacts to proactively manage those relationships? Has your company/organization moved to a stance of engaging with key audiences early in resolving a crisis instead of facing off under old-school confrontational approach?

Scenario planning is invaluable.  One of the best guides remains “Shell Global Scenarios to 2025:  The future business environment: trends, trade-offs and choices.”

Ask for help.  Form new alliances.  Let your customers, employees, suppliers and community members tell you what’s important.

You won’t do everything right, but if you move forward guided by principles, you will be regarded as a decent member of the community.