1.1. Assess Possible Risks and Potential Impact
Conduct an issues audit (an inventory of your entity's vulnerabilities and the critical issues you are likely to be confronted with) Create an Issue Manual for your members Develop a framework where the critical issues are identified and prioritized in order of magnitude and likelihood of occurrence.
1.2. Always be Prepared! Develop an HR Plan Establish clear responsible persons for each area of decision making along with the ranking of authority. The top decision makers put together form the crisis team. You can must also have one key person in charge of communications (ex. VP PR, VP Comm) and an ultimate decision maker (usually the PAI, MCP or LCP ). Secure Financial Back-up Crisis response often requires action and follow-up that requires unplanned expenditure. Ensure you have financial reserves in case of these emergencies. Prepare a detailed crisis Communications plan that includes: Names and contact information of the crisis team/ spokespeople.
Crisis levels- Establish criteria to decide when a minor incident has the potential to become a national or international crisis. Alert/ notification procedures- Who needs to get information, and in
1- BEFORE A CRISIS
No matter how careful and safety-conscious an organisation is, some crisis or another will occur sometime in the life of this organisation. Most crises are newsworthy events, reporters from the region, state, nation, and, perhaps, world, will expect statements and explanations about the cause and effects of the crisis from the very earliest moments of the event An AIESEC entity, no matter the scale of operations, should always be prepared to deal with such a situation.
2 -WHEN A CRISIS STRIKES Assess the Situation:
You first have to determine if you are in a crisis or not and to what scale the situation currently is and can grow to become.
First response- What information has top priority? How will you initially respond to media?
A crisis can take on many forms, including natural or man-made disasters, work disruptions or criminal acts concerning individual connected to AIESEC, a compromise of EP or member safety, to name a few.
Situation room- Assess the physical space that will be the nerve centre for managing the crisis, including the required hardware and software, staffing, location and layout.
If you were able to develop an Issues Manual, use this as a guide to assess the situation. You may also use the criteria below:
what order of priority? By phone, e-mail or social media channels?
Establish Key Channels for Communications- How do you plan to communicate with members, EP's, the AIESEC network, partners, alumni, government and the media? What channels of communication can you use? Which channels are private channels or open to the public? Contact lists- Include the “inputs (which media outlets and Internet message boards should be monitored) and “outputs” (which media outlets need to hear your story)? Template responses- Standardized format, language and protocol for all communications
Insure Insurable Risks (ex. EP indemnity forms, conference delegate indemnity forms, EP travel insurance)
3 - THE FIRST 48 HOURS The first rule of crisis management is to communicate. The first 48 hours are critical and they set the tone for the duration of the crisis. If you are not ahead of the crisis by that timeframe, it’s likely it will run you over.
3.1. Activate Key Players Closely involve the team responsible for communications. Share/ Re-share communication plan with task force and gain agreement on the plan. Choose a spokeperson relevant to the issue. Provide additional training if needed Check and confirm all the facts. Document all the information you collect from your sources. Based on the facts you’ve confirmed, Provide key messages and talking points to necessary spokesperson. Contact AIESEC International and other LC's and MC's for Support Proactively reach out to AIESEC International to alert them; and relevant MC’s or LC’s who may experience a similar issue or be contacted by stakeholders. Remember that you are part of the largest youth organisation in the world and you are not alone. Most of our operations deal with and can affect the international network.
3.2. Activate Resources and Supporters With your Crisis Team, try to address issue as quickly and swiftly as possible; allocate budget and resources.
Show compassion and understanding to those affected. Assign someone to be the key contact person to connect with them.
Crisis Assessment Criteria:
Contact legal counsel.
Is this a crisis, or is it simply a continuing business problem coming to the surface?
Get outside help.
Is it confined to a local area, or does it have the potential to become a situation of national or international importance? Has someone verified the incident or crisis? What are the legal implications? What level of resources will be required to manage it?
We are not experts in Crisis Communications. Get the support of an alumni/ PR professional that can provide support throughout the crisis.This individual’s role is not to call all the shots. His or her role is to provide counsel to a team leader – and offer an external perspective that few inside the organisation can offer.
Inform key AIESECers/ members who also need information and can help communicate to others. Remember that the AIESECers of your entity are your front-line “ambassadors” in a crisis. Be sure they are aware of what the organisation is doing to deal with the situation. Also define which questions they have the authority to respond to, and which questions/ topics they have to refer to more official spokespersons.
THROUGHOUT THE REPUTATIONAL CRISIS
4 - MANAGING INFORMATION
Gather facts and figures from relevant teams and people. Check, double-check and recheck. Ensure that appropriate levels of management are updated with information from a wide variety of sources (media coverage, analyst comments, competitive intelligence, managers’ first-hand reports, etc.).
4.2. Date or Version key message documents Document each finding, happening, and actions taken related to the crisis. Label them appropriately (e.g. title-messages-V1.doc, V2.doc, documentation-V1etc.)
4.3. Prepare reactive Q&As to properly prepare
“Plan for the worst; hope for the best.”
5 - DISTRIBUTION METHODS Decide whether to engage/respond to traditional media and/or social media. Evaluate engagement of traditional and social media by considering: - Source of criticism - Complexity and depth of issue - Legal concerns - Potential for escalation
Consider whether issuing a simple statement versus a press release is preferred
Constantly update your information. Communicate what the organisation is doing and provide background information. This can come in the form of an
Call trusted and well-known media contacts, if appropriate to inform them
Examples of frequently asked questions by Media:
Update website and other key channels with latest information if/when necessary
FAQ sheet that you can give to your specific spokespersons for reference.
What happened? Where? When did you know of the problem? What are you doing about it? Who’s to blame? Were there warning signs? Create statements for your three key messages: There are three suggested messages that are the most important to clarify before going to the public. (1) “We have a plan to deal with …” You really need to have a plan – that is why creating a crisis plan in Step 1 is so important. (2) “Our hearts and prayers go out to those …” You need to show compassion for those that have been affected, hurt or simply inconvenienced. (3) “We immediately began our own investigation to make sure that we …” You need to commit to finding out what went wrong and taking the necessary steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again For these messages to work, it is critical that you back them up with actions. Saying you care about an issue doesn’t work if you don’t demonstrate it.
Monitor all incoming communication channels for updates (e.g. Calls to all offices, Emails through website inboxes, Mail to all offices, Questions through branches and members)
7 -PREPARING FOR
" In the absence of real information, an organisation cannot respond meaningfully. "
4.1. Centralize Information.
AIESEC International © 2013
Promptly follow-up on media or information requests. Identify negative comments or communications and address them quickly
6 - ENGAGING EXTERNALS
Assume the worst-case scenario. Develop contingencies for the hours and days ahead, forecast possible consequences and determine plans of action. Use research to determine responses. Polling, market research and focus groups provide essential insight into the magnitude of a crisis and public attitudes about where hidden issues may lie. Monitor the Internet, chat rooms and blogs.
AFTER THE REPUTATIONAL CRISIS 8- CRISIS RECOVERY Gather all the media coverage and online / social media comments and prepare a report. Conduct an after-the-fact review to diagnose underlying causes and suggest solutions to reduce future risk of similar problems
External Support: Contact key alumni, government contacts, donors, and partners with clear facts and keep them regularly updated as required
Keep focus of review on problem-solving rather than fault-finding
Third Parties: Consider, if appropriate, to have third party endorsements. Use third parties to speak on your behalf. Third parties act as character witnesses and often carry more credibility than the organization at the centre of a crisis.
Return to ‘1’ to prepare and refine plan for the next crisis
Share your experience with other entities. This will help them to avoid repeating the same situation.
The Chinese expression for crisis, wei ji, is a combination of two words: danger and opportunity. A well-managed crisis response, coupled with an effective recovery program, will leave stakeholders with a favourable impression and renewed confidence in the affected company.