The 10 Step Crisis Management Checklist

Jessie Berry

When a crisis strikes, there’s no time to make sure your ducks are in a row. In today’s news-at-the-speed-of-light society, you have to be quicker than that in order to effectively address, and ultimately quell, a crisis. And because crises tend to unravel quickly, it’s absolutely crucial to be prepared ahead of time. Here’s our handy checklist to ensure you and your team have all bases covered when prepping for the inevitable.

Download a printable version of the checklist here.

  1. Set a strategy. Form a plan to keep relevant parties and stakeholders informed on the issues arising so your message remains steady and consistent. Flawless internal communication is just as essential as your outward message.
  2. Monitor in real-time. Having access to all information in-the-moment, including how, when and where the story is being reported, can help you steer a more favorable conversation around the incident, rather than losing control of the message as the story develops.
  3. Work with journalists. If you know that journalists for a given news outlet are poking around to find information about your company or client, step in and work with them. Chances are they’re going to write the story either way, so do your best to answer their questions and shape a story that minimizes damage to your brand.
  4. Stop the bleeding. Determine every place the story is being told by closely monitoring your client across all channels. This arms you with the right information, ideally in real time, so that you can systematically offer updates—and correct any misinformation—before the story spreads too far.
  5. Know the facts - and stick to them. The media machine will take the wheel and work quickly to inform the masses, so a lack of facts and knowledge of the situation on your part will immediately create a hole that will be very difficult to dig yourself out of.
  6. Stay on message. After you initially address the situation, you can’t take back what you say. Changing your stance on the issue only makes your position difficult to understand. And the more it evolves, the harder it becomes for the public to trust your words and actions.
  7. Understand and respond to sentiment. Social media is obviously a quick and easy gauge of public opinion, but understanding how TV and online media outlets are reporting the situation is necessary. Earned media is very powerful and influential to public perception, so immediate access to this media data is essential to navigating crises as they develop.
  8. Be flexible. In today’s digitally driven world, you must be willing to drop rigid thinking and be flexible in responding across many channels. For example, addressing the situation on social media can help your message go viral as well as reach audiences that don’t traditionally consume TV or online publications for news.
  9. Apologize. Regardless of the situation, an apology, especially if you're in the wrong, can make all the difference. Letting people know that your company is aware of the issues, as well as addressing where things went wrong, will go a long way toward solving the current problem.
  10. Adopt a proactive approach. Having access to at least two years of media data across digital channels, TV, social media and even radio will provide the historical context that lends itself to a proactive approach. Shaping your response around repeating success and avoiding past mistakes will keep you ahead of the game.

Follow this checklist so that your team will be better prepared with a strategy that enables quicker and more effective responses in the midst of chaos.

Learn more about how media intelligence helps mitigate crises here.

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