Crisis management – can you handle it?

When the ferry Estonia unexpectedly sank, the then Swedish prime minister promised it would be raised. Turned out that was impossible, but the voters never forgave him for breaking his promise.

Handle the issue in a serious manner and don’t try to make it appear to be of minor importance. It is important, so important you have journalists hounding you. If you seem arrogant they will go for your throat.

Negative media coverage hits when you least expect it and you have to be quick, open and take responsibility. It’s actually more important how you handle the crisis than what actually happened.

Not as difficult as it seems

How should a crisis be managed? There are an abundance of strategies claiming to know how to succeed with crisis management. They all have one thing in common – sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. But the multitude of theories do give the impression it’s almost impossible to manage disaster when it hits you. And the fact that huge companies like BP fail contribute to making companies feel they are not up to the task. Of course they are.

You can’t anticipate everything that could go wrong

Things go wrong when we least expect it and to make it worse it’s usually something we wouldn’t in our wildest dreams imagine. It’s not the areas where you understand something could go wrong that turns out to be problematic but something completely unexpected. So no matter how prepared you are, you will usually be caught completely off guard when something really goes wrong.

Make a tentative plan of action

So it’s important to decide who handles what and how you will proceed when a crisis happens. Otherwise it will be total chaos with people trying to avoid dealing with it by claiming it’s not their responsibility. And several people have to be prepared to act, in case someone is off sick or on vacation. You also need to make sure the person handling the press gives a serious and honest impression.

Monitor your press coverage

It’s important to be aware of what’s written about you. Not least on social media because that’s often where a problems starts. Keep a close eye on comments being made since things can easily get out of hand if you don’t handle them swiftly.

Can you handle even a huge disaster?

You have to be prepared to do so even if it never happens. If not, you are doomed when disaster strikes.

Be available

Trying to avoid the media is tantamount to suicide. Some journalists will then try to nail you and find whatever information they can to do so. If necessary by analysing the crisis at hand in a way that makes you the culprit. If you don’t know what to say, you can always end a news conference by saying that the next one will be held, say, tomorrow afternoon at 15.00 hours.

Don’t try to hide anything

Be as open as possible to avoid speculation. Use your web site to make documents related to the issue at hand available, questions & answers and statements. Just be careful about not saying anything that could later turn out to be bending the truth. It’s better to say that you don’t know but will find out and get back to them.

Don’t simplify the problem

Handle the issue in a serious manner and don’t try to make it appear to be of minor importance. It is important, so important you have journalists hounding you. If you seem arrogant they will go for your throat. Make sure you convey the message that you completely understand and sympathize with the public outcry caused by the crisis. It’s essential to show that you genuinely care and that human beings are more important to you than money. However, don’t be as emphatic as the former Swedish prime minister by promising something that can’t be done. It would have been better that he said he would like to raise it, but didn’t know if it was possible.

Apologize

When you are at fault acknowledge it, take responsibility and apologize profoundly. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to explain why things went wrong. That usually goes down wrong and give the impression you are not sincere. And that’s fatal.

Be honest

Whatever you do, don’t lie and hope it will not be detected. Investigating journalists will find out and the repercussions against the company, and you personally, could be grim. Even white lies can be fatal. Heard about one minister that got caught with a white lie and was sacked after eight days in office.

Show the media what actions you are taking to sort out the mess and make sure it never happens again. Needless to say it has to be something that makes sense and enable them to show the public that you are taking your responsibilities seriously.

Maybe the most important thing is for the crisis to be handled by a person that gives an honest and caring impression. If not, media can easily get the impression something is wrong and start investigating. If worse comes to worse they will then dig up something else that can be editorialized into a story needing even more crisis management. Or even make it necessary for the CEO to resign.

(Photo: PhotoXpress Nathalie P)

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87 Responses to “Crisis management – can you handle it?”

  1. catarinaalexon Says:

    Seems we agree Guy. One way of describing the media is to call it a superpower.

  2. Pal Kantas Says:

    Excellent article, and with respect to the unexpected in case of BP: if something can go wrong it will; if something can't go wrong,it still will!!

  3. Eric Saint-Guillain Says:

    Good article ! Indeed, sometimes, we underestimate the potential of disaster or crisis. We always believe that we can get control on everything, and make asumption based on the passed experience. We can note that in a fast changing environment, it is wrong to have such judgement. The fact to recognize an issue and the lack of control make us more trustable in the way we are facing the fact we can lose our position. This is a conterpart of the responsibilities we have to take when we have a high position. The question is "Do we prefer to lose our job or our face ?"
    Best regards

  4. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes Eric, the only thing that's certain in life is uncertainty. We have to accept that and deal with what happens when it happens. By the way, I have never undetstood why some people are afraid of losing face? What's the big deal? We are all human beings and nobody's perfect.

  5. Abdullah Al Hour Says:

    Nice article, catarina. I remember an incident of a youtube video of two workers at Domino's pizza franchise doing disgusting things on pizza. Few days later Domino's America's CEO appeared on youtube to apologise and re-ensure the customers regarding his brand. Not only he apologized, he briefed them on the actions he did immediately to support his statement. Any way, the principle mentioned above are the guide to safe way out of crises and disasters. Regards. Abdullah

  6. Lance Rogers Says:

    Very good article. We can plan for anything, but the only thing that is certain in this world it will change; and before the media gets involved, you have to come up with answers just as you do for your employees. Your first reaction must be appropriate and well thought out, otherwise anything you do or say can come back to really hurt. And you can buy buy if the situation will allow it, such as the example you used demonstrate what you can really turn something into a real credibility issue. In a company I used to work with we ran into an issue and the first thing we did was stall for time, but offer a time at which we would be ready to meet and discuss the issues. As a company we met this requirement and the crisis was defused and we were able to get back to business without being the topic of news.

  7. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good example Abdullah. Illustrates my article very well.

  8. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Lance. Glad you and your company managed to defuse the crisis.

  9. Paul Novak Says:

    Your idealism is refreshing Catarina. Unfortunately, most big corps don't share it. BP is a good example. When disaster strikes, their efforts go in large part not towards assuming responsibility, but towards finding a way to rebrand and repackage so the name is no longer associated with the problem. And if that is not going to be successgul, they simply rename and regroup altogether.

  10. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thanks Tony. Yes courage is definitely needed when managing a crisis.

  11. Jem Thomas Says:

    Catarina, nice piece. Unfortunately, many in the NGO, IGO, government, as well as corporate world, still fail to understand that crisis communication is as important, sometimes even more so, than the practicalities of crisis management – BP, Toyota, Goldman Sachs are good examples. But it is even more critical when communications will dictate the degree of public safety and security during crises, especially disasters or humanitarian operations. Communications, in many cases, can literally decide life or death, not merely the price of shares or political reputation.

  12. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good comment Jem.

    Agree with you that communication is a key part of crisis managment. Probably the most important. For instance if the person communicating with the press gives a dishonest impression, jounalists will go for the kill.

  13. Rick Beck Says:

    We shouldn't forget that an important piece of crisis management is crisis mitigation. Follow the safety rules you yourself implement and make it part of your corporate culture. If you work to avoid accidents and disasters and everyone on your team does the same thing, then at least when a tragedy occurs anyway you can justifiably point to your culture of safety and work to improve it. If you do this, you don't have to put up a front of sincerity while lower level employees are quoted on TV saying how safety is important unless it interferes with production.

  14. Keyuri Joshi Says:

    What a wonderful post! I love the apology approach. When a company allows themesleves to show humiltiy, it reaches customers hearts and can cultivate trust. What you allude to is emotional and social intelligence in action. What am I feeling? What do I want to do about it that is productive? What are others feeling? What actions will create a win win? Crises events are ideal situations to implement ESI

  15. Christian Paulsen Says:

    Catarina,

    This is an excellent guide to managing a crisis. Prior preparation is critical to responding to the emergencies that one can expect (fires, bomb threat, etc.). Knowing how to handle the media is critical no matter how well you handle the incident itself. Thanks for sharing.

    Chris

  16. Cathy Olian Says:

    I asked an executive at a large company once why companies DON'T act the way Katarina suggested. He said that when things go wrong the CEO very often does not know if it is the company's fault or not, and the lawyer's are breathing down their backs not to take responsibility until they know how liable they truly are.

    I think when disaster strikes, the companies should at least give the waiting press coffee and doughnuts for a start:)

  17. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good comment Cathy. Most likely it applies to the United States more than other countries due to since litigation is a bigger issue there than elsewhere in the world. Have actually never handled crisis management that involved the US. Would probably have had an impact on how I did it.

  18. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thanks Christian. Glad we agree.

  19. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good points Keyuri. Don't know how many times I have apologised for things that had nothing to do with me. But what else can you do when the company has "caused a mess"?

  20. catarinaalexon Says:

    True Rick. Maybe it would be a good idea to get all emplyees to sign NDAs as well to avoid low level staff falling for the temptation of being on television.

  21. Rob Berman Says:

    Johnson & Johnson was held up as the best at handling a crisis with the Tylenol recall over 20 years ago. In the last year they have had recall after recall. The knowledge of how to handle a crisis was not institutionalized. They continue to flail at the problem without resolving it.

    Great advice in your post.

    Rob

  22. Julia M Lindsey Says:

    Crisis management should be a part of small and large businesses. As you said you can not predict everything that my occur, but you must be willing to be flexible and assume responsibility. We recently we had a printing mistake that impacted on of our clients. Our first instinct was to blame the printer but instead, we assumed responsibility. Although it was not a major crisis we gained respect from our client.
    I dont think people care whose fault it is they just the problem solved in a timely manner.

  23. Susan Oakes Says:

    You reaise very important points Catarina, especially the tenative plan of action. When I was in marketing all of us in senior mangament went through media training and with our PR agency did different senarios and a rough plan of how we would respond etc.

    Two months later there was a crisis and having thought through the major steps it did alleviate some of the stress and it worked out okay. Another company I worked for didn't and when the brand was in the news for a negative reason it was chaos for a while.

    Excellent post.

  24. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good comment Julia. Agree with you completely. Don't know how many times I have apologized for things that had nothing to do with me.

  25. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thanks Susan.

    Good examples that show how important it is to be prepared. If not, nobody wants to deal with it and start saying it's someone else's responsibility.

  26. Laura Sherman Says:

    Wow, I have to admit this is something I never considered! I have heard though that being open to the press isn't always the best approach (in general, but not particularly in a crisis situation). They tend to make things up, even if you present the proof. However, your points are well taken, and if I ever found myself in that situation I would follow your advice. I hope I never have to face any of these sorts of situations in my small businesses.

  27. catarinaalexon Says:

    Hope you never need to handle a crisis Laura. Much better if that can be avoided.

  28. Sherryl Perry Says:

    I can't even imagine trying to handle the media in a crisis. I used to work for a nonprofit that was very visible to the public. Anytime there was a flurry of media activity (especially if it had a negative slant), we were told to refer any inquiries to our in-house PR person. He was instructed to follow our "talking-points" and if necessary refer them to an assigned spokesperson. As a nonprofit, we did work with a PR company that did pro-bono work for us but we also had a line item in our budget, just in case.

  29. catarinaalexon Says:

    Sounds like a good strategy and that it worked. If not,the nonprofit organisation would have been famous for some kind of crisis.

  30. Julie Weishaar Says:

    Nice points Catarina. I am not so sure how one can have a tentative plan of action for every possible crisis that might happen. The problem with a crisis – besides the obvious – is that it is something unexpected and unplanned for. However, your points about being totally transparent are very valuable. If one is not, they will be found out. In addition, I would add to "stay calm" or at least as calm as possible because when we panic, our adrenaline gets pumped and we are therefore unable to think clearly.

  31. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Julie and I'm glad we agree. The tentative plan is mainly who handles what and how when something goes wrong. As I pointed out it's not possible to predict everything that could go wrong. So it's just necessary to be clear about who will deal with the problem and more or less how it will be done. Not least who will communicate with the public and the press. Agree with you about staying calm. Panic would be fatal.

  32. Jem Thomas Says:

    I think that what the article and the comments thereafter indicate is that communicating in a crisis is far from easy – it occurs in a very complex and difficult environment which is rapidly changing with extremely heated emotions thrown in. There are many differing stakeholders involved and frictions, not least between PR and the lawyers, and getting it right can be critical to not only the survival of a company, policy etc but also to the very wellbeing of people invilved, be they shareholders, consumers, the general public, disaster victims or sufferers of humanitarian catastrophes. Preparation and training for dealing with communication in this light is vital but often not considered until it is too late, in which case too many people suffer because of too little foresight and investment in that training and preparation.

  33. Shefali Kotnala Says:

    This article is more of simple dos and donts. I can tell you that with best of preparation and protocols, sometimes the crisis can blow in your face. Reason- spokesperson at the senior management level doesnt take your counsel. sad but true that the industry thinks that you didnt handle it well

  34. catarinaalexon Says:

    Shafali, sorry you can't get your superiors to listen to your advice.

  35. Sadia Says:

    Crisis management in relation to the Flood Victims in Pakistan

    While loads of money is pouring in through the locals and international organizations, the biggest problem is one of co-ordination. Everyone seems to be doing their own little bit which needless to say results in wastage, inefficient distribution etc.

    Are there any best practices, basic guidelines or any ICT systems that may be used? Any guidance would be appreciated

    Thanks
    Sadia

  36. catarinaalexon Says:

    Sadia, I have never dealt with crisis management when it comes to a disaster like the floods in Pakistan. Seems to me that the inefficiency is a result of really poor management of the crisis in the sense that nobody is in charge of the overall effort. Really hope the situation approves.

  37. Slim Says:

    Brilliant, Catarina.

    Crisis Management is something the EuroCrats seem to need desperately. As I said of the starving people in Africa, the only time the world shows concern is when a major public relations disaster is about to occur.

    Regards,

    Slim
    My recent post Biologia 1 de vera unidade iii

  38. Gary Ravetto Says:

    Nicely said! I was directly involved at the senior level in Hurricane Katrina and several major tornados recovery efforts, & over the years had clients who got themselves in large scale high-profile public image scandals. In the end, it all comes down to experience, common sense and shooting from the hip! Always–always be proactive; and solicit the help of a pro. Cheaper than attorney fees! The crisis may be the lemon–the outcome however, if handled right, can be sweet lemonaide!

  39. Catherine Lockey Says:

    Great post Catarina – I agree with you on so many points. An honest response that takes the matter seriously is required. Take a look at OCW in the U.S. The primary reason they are protesting is because they don't feel represented. Yet, look at how the politicians have responded – they say they don't understand why people are protesting or they tell people to blame one party and not the other. Bad crisis management to be sure.
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  40. John Meekins Says:

    Good. Only comment: I have worked with media in crisis, and cannot believe how lazy most of the reporters are. Many just go with what you give them without challenge. I might also add that a very, very good thing to develop in a crisis is a fact sheet, something in writing that spells out what you want the media to know. This is different from a press release, but it works like a press release in that you go from the most important to the least important point, a point at a time. And, I agree, in a crisis, communication is key even when you don't really have anything new to communicate. Those who ignore that rule can get burned big time.

  41. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you find my article brilliant Slim.

  42. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad that someone with your experience agrees Gary.

  43. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Catherine and I loke your points!:-)

  44. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good point John.

  45. Alex Says:

    One thing that I think gets overlooked is that many companies are capable of handling a crisis effectively, but their executives make things far worse due to poor personal decisions.

    1. The executive views themselves as the company and feel they must be involved in everything. The result is that those who are below them get ignored even though they may know far more about the issue at hand.
    2. The executive thinks they are above the company and it is not worth their time to get involved in day-to-day events. By only focusing on the big picture they lose sight of the details that affect a company during a crisis and come across as cold and uninterested.
    3. The executive does not think about the company at all and is only interested in self preservation or self promotion by trying to please the public. This can result in unrealistic promises and internal conflicts (and blame) that end up hurting the company in the long term.

    By training senior executives and establishing processes to handle crisis ahead of time (e.g. be able to quickly "activate" a crisis team of people who are experts across your business), a company can help to prevent making mistakes in the management of the crisis and management of the press.

  46. catarinaalexon Says:

    That happens sometimes Alex.

  47. catarinaalexon Says:

    Wish it was that simple Matteo. Really doubt you have dealt with huge problems:-)

  48. Mark Cullen Says:

    Catarina,

    Nice! I was an emergency preparation, emergency response and crisis management consultant for a number of years and your roster was very thorough. Thank you.

    Mark

  49. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like it Mark.

  50. Greg Basham Says:

    All good dos and don’ts and great advice. What I have gleaned from those responding how their organizations handled issues as they arose are along the lines of these common ingredients for success along with some of my own experience in a well known insurance company where we would from time to time get embroiled in public issues as auto insurers are nice easy targets and the issues often complex but reduced to an attack on us.

    Key things for an organization to do well before a crisis include:

    1. Clarity of roles in-house as to who is do what must all be in place with prior executive commitment and understanding with a member of the executive the overall head of the issues management team. People need to know the process before a crisis.

    Formerly having the issues management coordination in my division in a former executive role this is critical as information needs to be gathered quickly and accurately with the right spokesperson(s) briefed and available.

    2. This issues management focal point must have access to the experts and those involved and they must get the whole truth together quickly. In my experience if facts are omitted or the story is not accurate someone ends up losing their job and that is the with holder or person who seeks to spin the story. Your board and chairman need to be briefed and other key stakeholders as well.

    When an issue hit we’d tell those providing us information that we simply need all the facts and the entire truth. Leave nothing out our people can write it up. We need this before we get to messaging or further actions but it is critical to not let dead air let others tell their story and your organization ends up looking bad and chasing the story which is often the worst position to be in.

    3. If an expert needs to speak such as on a public safety threat then get this person briefed and available quickly.

    You can’t – as the Japanese did in the major tsunami – rely on one overworked non-expert in the safety areas do all the talking despite their good intentions to take responsibility and then roll out the nuclear expert later on when that is not working. What happened then was that other nations started warning their nationals to get out. It was too late to get the expert in front of the public. It led to public concern well beyond what was necessary.

    3. Avoid what some technical experts want to do and that is get in a complex explanation of how your organization is not to blame but caught up in a mess due to others. The media won’t understand that and the public and stakeholders will be looking only at your actions.

    4. You can’t run issues management out of the media department yet they are absolutely critical and essential in a crisis as they know what the media want and need and their advice must be heeded as they deal with the media daily. They need to be fully involved in this and not be seen either as conveyors of messaging either. They must monitor, manage and be fully involved in the creation and dissemination of the message/story. In some cases their role as to who best to present the case is better than others’ judgment – listen to them.

    There are undoubtedly more and others could identify times when it is better to see if a story actually has “legs” or is a 24 hour story that simply fades away (depending on the issue of course). There are times too when the organization should lead in getting out the story. Certainly in my policing days that was what police leaders wanted to when members of their organization went astray. If they could lead and inform the public that they discovered this wrong doing, it went a long way to ensuring that the organization’s reputation was not harmed like it would be if the media broke the story.

    The article should be a good reminder to organizations to get this all figured out before the events occur that can harm your brand and your organization.

  51. catarinaalexon Says:

    Interesting information Greg.

  52. Arun V Mathew Says:

    Dear Catarina,

    Nice article. I appreciate it. But I feel Crisis management is a huge topic and is connected to all spheres of life. Now communicating to media, it happens only when something is connected mostly with Govt. or big Corporate Houses.

    But Crisis can happen anywhere. It can be in families, small business, in employment, etc. Well, as you rightly pointed out, communication is the key, wherever people are involved. Because, communications directly deals/influences the emotions of the people. And emotions are big potential, but has to be channelized. So a good communication helps. And many of your points are related to good communication.

    But what I think most is, the top man's capacity to cool himself and his emotions (understanding of that he cannot revisit the past, and has to take stock of the situation, and has to make salvage out of wreckage). Then he has to get his team in, cool their emotions and do a quick brainstorming in CRITICAL THINKING & CREATIVE THINKING pattern.

    Once you are able to differentiate the assumption and facts clearly, you will be in a better control of oneself and the situation. Now in this process, not one man gains confidence, but it is a TEAM, that gains confidence. Then need to go out communicate with utmost truth and modesty.

    Any how, it is a nice post. Thanks.

  53. catarinaalexon Says:

    It's so true that it often takes a team to handle crisis management, Arun. But it doesn't only apply to governments and multinational corporations. It's even worse for a small. local company when something goes wrong. It can lead to bancrupcy if not handled correctly.

  54. Leora Says:

    How a leader handles a crisis is a true test of leadership. You cover many good points. I've notice that that some tend to have too many crises, and a companion topic would be that many a crisis could have been avoided if proper planning had been implemented.

    I noticed you changed your theme for your site – I like the clean look. Why not have the menu across the top of the screen instead of one drop down.
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  55. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Leora. Glad we agree. Planning is essential. But don't you think there's more to companies having many crisises than poor planning?:-) Have not changed my theme. It's been the same since 2009.

  56. keepupweb Says:

    Catarina,
    This article contains excellent advice. Businesses need to be proactive and have a crisis management plan in place prior to needing it. Being in a reactive mode can just worsen the problem.
    My recent post E-Book Promotion Strategies, Using Hashtags and Google Analytics #FridayFinds

  57. Jeannette Paladino Says:

    You could also add get all the bad news out at once. Many companies make the mistake of trying to hide what happened so they dribble the news out a a little at a time as the extent of the crisis unfolds. Explain what happened in full and then tell how you're going to fix it.
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  58. becc03 Says:

    I agree that it is essential to show that you genuinely care and that human beings are more important to you than money. There is nothing better to regain trust than to take responsibility and place your values in the right place.
    My recent post A moment of weakness

  59. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me about the importance of being ready to handle a crisis, Sherryl.

  60. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good suggestion, Jeannette.

  61. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good point you make, Rebecca. Pity too many companies neglect to do so when there is a crisis.

  62. jacquiegum Says:

    I agree that it first starts with getting all the bad stuff our first, and then exercising compassion, empathy. But exercising is the operative word…DO something, in addition to talking about it.
    My recent post Thank You For Your Patience…Where’s The Justice?

  63. cheryltherrien Says:

    I agree. Crisis management is crucial and can be a make it or break it moment for a business.
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  64. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me about the importance of crisis management, Cheryl.

  65. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me, Jacqueline.

  66. Neosha Gardner Says:

    Your posts are always so great to read! Thanks so much for this post about how to handle a crisis. It shows that I’m pretty much doing as I should.
    My recent post They Call Me "Clean-Up" | Beware, Angels Are Walking…

  67. NARAYANAN VEERAMANI Says:

    Crisis Management cannot be generalized and cannot be taught like a B School topic. It varies from Industry to Industry, and place to place, hence this is a subject which should we worked and tackled on case to case basis rather than generalising. I am from India and can speak only about how crisis management is done here. We are very infamous for accumulating problems without solving it from time to time and when it blow up we call it a crisis. Then shifting of blame, responsibility and finding a scape goat are the routine things here. Some good companies by and large tackle it well without accumulating problems and allow it become a crisis..

  68. Doreen Pendgracs Says:

    Disaster planning is so important – in every organization, association or company's existence. Having lived thru it with a non-profit I was volunteering for, I can honestly say it's better to be overly prepared than caught with your pants down.
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  69. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Doreen about the importance of planning for a crisis.

  70. catarinaalexon Says:

    Naturally what a company has to be prepared for varies a lot, Narayanan. But no matter what a company does being prepared for disaster to strike is fundamental. Not sure why so many ignore that aspect. Glad you agree with me that it doesn't work to shift blame, responsibility and finding a scape goat.

  71. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you are prepared for a crisis, Neosha.

  72. yearwoodcom Says:

    Responding in a crisis is always a challenge and requires tremendous focus. Having a plan in advance saves a lot of grief. Great points.
    My recent post How To Be A Charismatic Leader

  73. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad, but not surprised, that you agree with me, Debra:-)

  74. JeriWB Says:

    It's always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, but when it comes to action plans for crisis in schools too much time is spent on the paperwork and not enough on how action will be implemented. Of course that doesn't speak well for the rash of school shootings. We're told what to do, but not really shown or given a chance to practice how to respond.
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  75. Susan P Cooper Says:

    Taking responsibility to your actions is so important. Before making a promise people must look at all avenues. I believe you do not make a promise unless you know that there is 1000% certainty that it will work. :-)
    My recent post You Never Told Me That: Story (Podcast)

  76. jbutler1914 Says:

    I am usually pretty good at handling crisis.
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  77. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good for you, jbutler.

  78. catarinaalexon Says:

    True, Susan. If you promise something that turns out to be impossible due to circumstances outside of your control it will be held against you.

  79. catarinaalexon Says:

    Interesting Jeri, that it works the same for schools as for businesses and politics.

  80. patweber Says:

    Insightful as always Catarina. I hope I would remain calm. And then, I recently in interviewing people for my upcoming book, came across the most valuable piece of advice for such an event. It was shared to me regarding one of a cruise lines president's theory about listening: Listen to anticipate. I would think if I could remain calm that by listening all the pieces and parts could be pulled together and allow me to plan accordingly.
    My recent post Publisher and author: one introvert money questions

  81. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you, Pat. Listening is definitely key in life, not only when it comes to a crisis, but always. If nothing else we learn.

  82. TheGirl Says:

    Ouch, with all this, you wonder who would want to be a CEO, seems like the only reason they are there is so they can be swiftly taken out in case of a crisis!
    My recent post A response to: Women’s Weapons of Seduction by Lily

  83. catarinaalexon Says:

    LOL, The Girl. CEOs have better make sure they are prepared if a crisis happens. If they are, they should be fine.

  84. Arleen Says:

    The key here is taking responsibility for your actions. Most promises by leaders are broken so making them the first place is setting them up for failure. Responding to any crisis is a challenge therefore accountability becomes hard to achieve.
    My recent post KFC Attracts Customers on the Go with Promotional Cups

  85. Suzanne Fluhr Says:

    All good advice. It's crucial that everyone be on the same page — all levels of management and whomever is in charge of PR. One person off the reservation or not in the loop can spell disaster. Then, learn from your mistakes. Finally, at least learn from your mistakes. Avoid a post crisis circular firing squad. A Canadian friend has a job in post emergency assessment for the Canadian equivalent of FEMA. After a crisis or emergency, they compare what happened with what was supposed to happen and they adjust emergency plans as necessary for the next time.
    My recent post Captain Phillips — A Boomeresque Movie Review

  86. catarinaalexon Says:

    True Arleen, managing a crisis is easier said than done. And it's particularily bad when a leader has broken a promise. But being prepared goes a long way.

  87. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you. Good example of learning the way the company your Canadian friend works for, Suzanne. That should improve crisis management.

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