When you hire a crisis management professional or firm, whether prior to or during a crisis, expectations of both parties need to be clear. Surprises are not something you want to experience while managing a crisis, the crisis will present you with enough of those on its own!
That said, I thought I’d provide you with some qualities and strengths to look for in a crisis management professional/firm, as well as a baseline of what you should be able to expect from the professional or team you choose to engage.
What can you expect from a reputable crisis management professional?
Qualities of a worthy crisis professional
- Emotional intelligence
- Natural and confident leader
- Remains calm and logical under pressure
- Compassion and empathy
- Digital savvy
- Effective communicator
- Media skills
What you should be able to expect from their service and guidance
Behind the scenes guidance
A good crisis professional will serve behind the scenes, providing you with counsel throughout the duration of the crisis. This includes helping you:
- Assess the situation.
- Identify your most important audience / stakeholder groups.
- Draft appropriate communications / responses / updates.
- Determine the best channels to disseminate your crisis communications.
- Monitor the crisis and all conversations surrounding both the crisis and your organization.
- Monitor your online and offline reputation.
- Continue to assess the risk throughout each stage of the crisis.
- Stay focused on the end-goals, without getting sidetracked by the noise.
The bottom line is that your crisis management professional needs to a) know what they’re doing, and b) be dedicated to helping you best manage the crisis so that your organization suffers the least amount of repercussions to its reputation and bottom line.
Experience with today’s crisis realities and communication platforms and tools
Today’s crisis professionals need to be in tune with today’s crisis realities, and the most effective way to both manage them and harness their power and opportunities. This means they need to understand and have successful experience managing:
- Today’s 24/hour news cycle.
- Social media (including platforms, monitoring, responding, dissemination, hashtags, review sites, etc.)
- Mobile technology (apps, SMS, GEO-targeting if needed, etc.)
- SEO – they need to understand how to best optimize your communications, videos, dark website, etc. for maximum reach and find-ability.
A specialized team
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to crisis management and today’s crises tend to have much more risk and complex components to them than they used to. For example, you may be being attacked by a savvy, anonymous person, organization or group; there may be legal advantages hidden with your crisis that can give you an edge; you may have to deal with online compliance and regulations, which can get tricky; and many more.
All this to say that the best way to manage your crisis may involve dedicated help from very specialized professionals such as:
- An attorney who specializes in Internet defamation or other specialized legal services;
- A cyber-investigator;
- An online compliance specialist;
- And many others.
Make sure that the crisis professional/firm you hire has a strong team of specialized professionals behind them that they can easily call in to help and provide guidance and counsel, on a moments notice, if you need them.
A crisis can strike at any time of the day or night – and often strikes at the least convenient moment. A true crisis professional is dedicated to being there for you, when you need them most. This means that they should provide you with a 24/7 on-call service. Otherwise, what’s the point if they won’t be there in real-time when you need them most?
A good crisis professional will not just help you manage a crisis, but will provide you with feedback, suggestions and recommended next-steps once the crisis has been put to bed. No person and no organization is perfect, this means that there are always areas within your crisis plan and team that will need improvement and strengthening, and some of these areas will only become evident during the crisis. A good crisis professional will spot these weaknesses during the crisis and provide you with their feedback and recommendations for improvement once the crisis is over – as well as help you implement them.
Do your homework prior to experiencing a crisis
The best thing is to do your homework prior to experiencing a crisis and to keep your professional/firm of choice on retainer (if you’re a high-risk organization) or on-call. Decide who is the right fit for your organization and make sure that your team has their contact information easily accessible, at all times.
If you’re looking for a dedicated and worthy crisis management firm for your organization, consider Agnes + Day. We’d love to have a conversation with you about your particular crisis management needs, and what makes us different from the other crisis pros out there. Feel free to contact us today.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.