Business crisis management and crisis communications

Business crisis management is an organization’s overall effort to stabilize and prevent further damage after an unplanned event.

Crisis management takes place at all organizational levels, beginning with executive management. Crisis management includes initial efforts from all departments, such as communications/ public relations, regulatory affairs, environmental health and safety, human resources, legal, corporate security and the business units.

Crisis communications is only one component of crisis management. Crisis communications includes all communications before, during and after an event, including targeted communications to employees, customers, the community, regulatory agencies, shareholders, the board and those affected by the situation.

Because crisis communications is involved in every type of event, from product recall to data center fire, it is critically important. The trend in crisis communications is to have multidisciplinary teams for internal and external communications working together on messaging.

Public relations, sales and marketing, human resources and investor relations all work together to develop and deliver internally and externally directed messages.

Here’s an example noting how crisis management and its crisis communications subcomponent work together. After a bomb explodes in a main bank branch location, the corporate security director informs the crisis management team that threats against other sites were made, but are not deemed credible.

However, the general council advises the CEO that it’s not worth taking the chance. The CEO decides to close down all facilities. The human resources head decides the organization needs to pay employees regardless. The corporate controller notes the financial impact of the decision. The chief risk officer notes the regulatory implications.

The crisis communications team communicates the facts to those at the scene, as well as other stakeholders (employees, customers, investors and regulatory bodies). Overall, crisis communications processes are dependent on decisions made by the crisis management team.

Business crisis management is one way of achieving risk management objectives.

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