When something goes horribly wrong and your business is involved it is always good to be prepared and have a plan.
“A crisis is defined as a significant threat to operations that can have a negative consequence if not handled properly.”
- Timothy Coombs -
Therefore, any threat big or small has the potential to escalate and get out of control if not handled properly, for example the United Airlines Overbooking of Passengers Incident. The crisis occurring on Sunday the 9th of April saw a 69-year-old man physically removed from the aircraft after he refused to give up his seat. This incident was recorded and uploading to Social Media channels to show the rough and unacceptable conduct of security in removing the passenger. United’s first media release was late Sunday night stating that the flight was overbooked, volunteers were requested and a passenger was removed by law enforcement. A twitter statement was then released by United Airlines over 24 hours after the incident apologising for the overbooked situation but not the treatment of the passenger. After investigation, the Chicago Department of Aviation stated that the actions taken were not in accordance with operating procedures and were not appropriate. Since then an official apology has been made and a confidential settlement.
This incident highlighted the need for businesses to address crisis’s immediately and apologise if in the wrong. Every business should have a Crisis Management Plan in place in preparation for any possible crisis.
Crisis Management Plan:
1. Determine what and where a possible crisis may occur and who will be in charge
- Identify possible crisis situations
- Create multiple crisis response plans
- Select a small team of key executives and PR personnel to be in charge of the response
2. Train chosen Management Team and staff in communication, speaking and key messages
- Create a key message to present to the media, consumers and post on social media channels to ensure consistent information.
- Prepare staff to speak effectively to the media
- Create and learn a key message/response to the issue
- Choose a key individual to address the media in public/TV
3. What monitoring systems will be put in place
- Have an establish and growing social media community
- Monitor website, social media and internet comment references to determine the public’s view point.
4. Develop immediate responses
- Time is needed to investigate, analyse and review the situation so have some general statements for the media prepared to allow for time to get the situation under control and determine what went wrong.
5. Analyse Crisis Management
- Review the situation, the time it took to get the situation under control and the damage to the business and its reputation.
- Review the Crisis Management Plan and determine where the business did well and where improvements can be made or avoided.
A crisis can come at any time, therefore measures need to be in place to avoid them from happening and if unavoidable a plan to manage the crisis. Take time to create a Crisis Management Plan for the business using the outline above and be as detailed as possible.