The Calm in the Crisis

The calm in a crisis is planning ahead.  Like the old saying from my American Studies days “Forewarned is Forearmed.” The natural disaster that has taken place in Japan has reminded me how important a crisis communication plan is for everyone.  Of course you see them in action with airlines, governments, and corporations.  But not everyone has a crisis plan and they really should.  This can even be utilized within families that are facing crisis be it a death in the family or for the celebrities, as we see played out on TV and social media.  What constitutes a crisis?  It is when something negative has impacted you in simple terms.  Anticipation of a negative event can trigger crisis control situations as well.  Corporations will routinely come out ahead of anticipated negative  stock reports to avert even more of a drop in stocks.  The Japanese people who are technologically savvy were still isolated when the disaster of an earthquake then Tsunami struck their island nation.  The Prime Minister of Japan did finally make a showing on TV and on certain cable carriers here in the U.S. they were carrying the native Japanese channels and allowing free access so those family and friends in the U.S. could see it from their point of view.  Frequently when a true crisis hits it’s imperative for calm minds and sound speakers to come forward and deliver prepared statements.  These statements, speakers, media avenues, are all planned out ahead of time in the crisis plan.  It is a smart and savvy practice to run through a fake crisis a couple times of year just so the people involved in delivering the news know what to say, what to anticipate and learn to sidestep any gaffes before the real event occurs.  Schools both private and public should create crisis communication plans too.  Often they do fire drills, and evacuations, but what if a real crisis went beyond the bell ringing?  I interviewed for a communications position with a private school several years ago and they had no plan.  When I suggested it should be something they think about doing and I went through what it was, the Headmaster just looked at me.  Since the job I was interviewing for didn’t cover that, instead of being grateful, they thought it was too much for their tiny private school.  I was surprised and dismayed by their reaction but as the saying goes – You can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink.  When a death in the family occurs emotional overload can take place. Knowing what plans have been made, need to be made beforehand, can help alleviate some of the normal discord that can happen.  Knowing who to call, asking the right people for support, and having people offer support – without asking can also help everyone involved move forward patiently and calmly.

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