Experiencing a crisis can be an overwhelming experience. However, ensuring this opportunity is used as a learning opportunity to prepare for future crises can be extremely helpful. Now that you have a full understanding of crisis preparedness and management, there are many steps organizations can take to regroup and move forward in the post-crisis stage.
After a crisis has taken place, it’s important to publicly acknowledge what has happened. The first step to recovering is signaling to the public that the crisis is actively being dealt with while also taking ownership of the mistake. This is the time to utilize pre-drafted messages and designated spokesperson(s) to address the public’s concerns and face potential backlash. Making a statement of apology is crucial to taking accountability and addressing that the crisis has happened. It is also important to communicate what steps are being taken internally to avoid a recurrence in the future, and what the company has learned in this process. It can also be helpful to keep the media informed to ensure that key messages are reaching a wider audience.
Not only is addressing the public a significant step to recovering post-crisis, but engaging directly with affected communities is also crucial. Be open to communication and collaboration with affected parties about how they feel it is best to move forward from the crisis and continue this dialogue to ensure the steps being taken are effective. Be prepared to continue managing reactions to the crisis even after time has passed. It’s important to be empathetic and receptive to concerns, criticism, and questions about how the crisis came about and how it is being handled.
After the crisis has been publicly addressed, it’s time to reflect internally. Discuss the events that occurred, what processes need to be changed or put in place, and what did not work during the active crisis. Create an After Action Report (AAR) to formally debrief, document the experience, and note suggestions for improvement. Ask team members to provide their input on what happened, gathering multiple first-hand perspectives on the event, while being open to suggestions to implement going
forward. Ensure all team members have a strong understanding of the crisis and take time to review internal policies to identify where gaps are to avoid this situation in the future. During this process, it is helpful to monitor media coverage, both positive and negative, to continue staying in touch with how the crisis is being represented to the public.
Taking into account discussions with affected parties, sentiment in the media, internal perspective, and reflection on past procedures, start brainstorming ways old processes can be improved to avoid other routes that could lead to a crisis. Review all current procedures, especially the ones that led to the crisis, and implement realistic changes from the outcomes of the AAR. Take time to collaboratively make revisions and updates to the previous crisis plans and messaging, using all of this newly discovered information. It’s important to understand that as procedures and messaging evolve, so do the opportunities for other crises to arise, so be sure to plan for new situations as well. Consider researching ways to continue engaging with the public in better ways and discuss further how the situation can be rectified with the communities who have been affected.
While no one wants to experience a crisis, preparing for the inevitable is the best way to recover quickly and effectively. Commitment to evolving from a crisis with an open line of communication about what has happened will lead to a valuable outcome. Using crises as an opportunity for lessons allows companies to experience growth both internally and externally.