5 Steps to Handle a Crisis

Crisises are an unavoidable part of life, both personal and professional. So, it stands to reason that crisis management is a pretty important skill, right?

It is, but you’d be amazed by how many people still struggle with it. That’s why I’ve created this little guide, based on some articles that I’ve read (and that you can find on my Twitter) and my own experiences with crisis management. If you can master this one skill, everyone from your friends to your boss will be impressed.

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  1. Build your team

Having a solid team that you can trust is a key aspect of crisis management. At work, this team will include an executive or two to enforce decisions, management staff to coordinate everything, and some creatives to craft your message. A lawyer helps, too.

As far as your personal life goes, this team includes your friends and mentors that you can go to if you are dealing with a crisis. Health professionals, like a doctor or therapist, and spiritual advisers can also be considered part of the team.

2. Define a “crisis”

Not everything is a crisis, even if it feels like it. A real crisis can be defined as a situation with these 3 characteristics: you don’t know any more than the public about what’s going on; it’s a change from the norm; and there is a serious risk to your company.

Personally, this may be any abnormal situation that poses a serious risk to your well-being, either mental or physical. For your company, a crisis can take a number of forms, including hacking of your computer systems, serious consumer backlash or product failure, or any number of legal or whistle-blowing scenarios.

3. Create your key message

This step is all about identifying your core values. Once you do that, you’ll have a guide on how to react during any crisis without worrying about losing sight of who you, or your company, truly are.

4. Send out your message

As a crisis management professional, this should be done alongside acknowledging the problem, determining the key voices in this crisis (both for the audience and your company), and pausing all scheduled content until after the crisis is dealt with. Your top priority needs to be working with your team to send out the right message that will keep the brand damage to a minimum.

When it comes to your personal life, this might mean getting in touch with your friends, boss, significant other, or whoever, and letting them know something along the lines, “Hey, I’m dealing with X right now. Do you mind giving me a couple days to deal with this?”

Or it could be more internal, where you tell your mind, “Yes, this is a crisis. But I’ve got a great team that I can count on to support me. I’ll get through this. Everything will be fine.”

5. Reflect

Once the dust has settled, you can reflect on how you handled the crisis and assess the damage. While it’s not as exciting as fending off reporters and proving yourself to be a crisis management pro, this is a crucial part of the job. Don’t try to skip over it, okay? Okay.

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There you have it! My 5 steps to handling a crisis, whether it’s personal or professional. With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll be known as a crisis management specialist in no time.

What steps do you take to handle a crisis? Share them below!

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