Crisis plans should consist of a simple checklist of action steps for each potential crisis. Plans should also identify crisis team members (including pertinent contact numbers) and a list of who's responsible for which actions. Once you've developed your crisis plan, take these next steps:

  • Move quickly. When a crisis threatens your business, time is of the essence. In the early stages of a crisis, it's important to prove your competency and control over the situation. You'll have a difficult time establishing this once you're placed in a defensive mode.
  • Communicate. Inform everyone who's important to the success of your business about the crisis, and ask for their input and feedback. This list may include customers, prospective customers, suppliers, community leaders and the news media.
  • Don't try to sweep the crisis under the rug in hopes it will blow over. Crisis management expert Jeffrey R. Caponigro suggests getting all the bad news out at once. Avoid letting a new accusation surface every week.
  • Handle the media. In an era of almost instantaneous global communication, a negative story about your company that breaks in the middle of the night can be worldwide news before the morning newspaper hits your doorstep.