Let's be honest here: We dodged another bullet. Yes, we experienced an earthquake Tuesday. Yes, 5.8 is not shabby, especially for an area that isn't accustomed to dealing with earthquakes. But overall, the damage was minor.
However, the earthquake presents a great opportunity for all of us to evaluate our business (and personal) crisis response and crisis communications plans. And if you aren't doing so this week, you're a fool.
Right now, you should be convening your entire senior team to discuss how you handled yesterday's situation. And it does need to be your ENTIRE team... because in a crisis, communications and operations go hand-in-hand. So your evaluation of a crisis should be integrated as well. (You don't do anyone any favors if you isolate the two arms.)
Questions you may want to ask yourself and YOUR STAFF include (but are not limted to):
- Did we handle the crisis well?
- Did we keep our staff safe and did we make the safety of our staff our top priority?
- Did we communicate the situation effectively, both during and after the crisis? If not, how could we have communicated better? What tools did we use to communicate with staff? What tools should we have used?
- Were we ill-equipped to handle the situation? If so, what kind of training can you take yourself or give your staff to ensure everyone does better the next time there's a crisis?
More specifically, in the case of communications, some things to think about:
- If this crisis had required media response by your company, who would have given it? Who would need to approve crisis messaging?
- Have you identified a Crisis Communications Center location where you will corral media if there is an on-site crisis?
- Have you identified all the ways that you can (and will) communicate with staff and external audiences? Are these avenues accessible from an off-site location?
- Have you created a "black site" homepage for your website that you can quickly activate with a crisis message?
Some potential resources to help you with your evaluation/planning:
- PRSA Advanced Crisis Communications Strategy Seminar
- Public Relations Tactics: Being Creative in the Face of a Crisis
- IABC Crisis Planning Resources
- FEMA's National Incident Management System Resource Center
Next time, we might not be so lucky. Next time, the crisis might not be minor. So don't let this opportunity pass you by. Use it as a teaching tool to make sure you -- and your staff -- are ready for whatever life (or nature or a disgruntled employee) may throw at you next.