The Work Isn’t Over After the Crisis Is
When a crisis finally comes to its end, the work is not done. There’s still lots to do, and those things shouldn’t be ignored. The two categories of activity are stakeholder updates and the crisis review, or postmortem. Addressing these properly will help you nail your response to the current crisis and help in dealing with the next one.
During the crisis you made promises to people. You told a reporter you’d get back to her with some piece of historical information about your organization; you told city council members you’d personally address them about the crisis.
It’s imperative that the loose ends of a crisis be tied up. This means providing all stakeholders the information they were promised — and even some they weren’t. Have a procedure in your crisis plan to remind members of the crisis communications team (and others involved) to reach out to the stakeholders they are responsible for and provide that information.
The end of a crisis presents a perfect opportunity to check in with these stakeholders and assure them that your organization has addressed, and continues to address, the issue. In part, that can be done by:
- Providing promised further information.
- Providing the cause of the crisis when known.
- Telling how the recovery effort is going.
- Explaining what has been done to avoid a repeat.
- Pointing out positive evaluations of how the company responded to the crisis.
The second important area to address is to evaluate how you did in responding to the problem. A postmortem evaluation should be conducted both to determine whether you were successful (especially concerning your stated crisis goals) and to discover if aspects of your crisis plan need to be improved.
Decide what data are important to review for these purposes. After most crises, the following should probably be evaluated:
- Communications goals, such as media coverage;
- Business goals, such as limiting sales drops or stock-price drops;
- Stakeholder feedback (including through interviews or surveys), and
- Crisis records, such as calls sheets for media, customers, and other constituents.
Also, decide what questions you want the team to ask itself in response to its evaluation:
- How successful was the response?
- How does the crisis communications plan need to be updated?
- Do general talking points need to be tweaked?
- Do crisis team members need to be swapped out?
A crisis is tough to go through, and when its end approaches people can almost taste how much they don’t want to deal with it anymore. But evading these responsibilities after the crisis ends will only make the next one harder.
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