011: Crisis management

When a crisis hits, you will ultimately be judged by how you respond. What can you control when things seem out of control? We give you a framework to enable you to come out of a crisis with more trust, a stronger community and closer to achieving your school’s mission.

Crisis management — Show Notes

 Crisis communication framework

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Open and maintain a dialogue
  3. Talk to your team first
  4. Eradicate uncertainty
  5. Don’t forget the team
  6. Involve senior management
    6.5 Review

Brad’s communication awareness ‘checklist’

  • Get the facts straight. Your mission is to determine precisely what is known and what is opinion. Don’t get confused about opinion and fact … and never make assumptions.
  • Create a narrative (write it out in a couple of hundred words) and get key internal stakeholders to ‘sign off’.
  • Use that narrative as the source document for all your communications.
  • Write out a Crisis Management Plan as soon as you get a bit of air. If you’re not getting some air, you’ll need to delegate this task or make some air … there is no option. If you a prepared and you are responding rather than reacting, this means you’ve already prepared a generic Crisis Management Plan and you can tweak it to reflect the reality you are faced with.
  • Create a stakeholder matrix. Who are the stakeholders? What do they need to know? When do they need to get told? Who is going to tell them? How are you going to communicate it?
  • ‘War game’ the likely responses from stakeholders.
  • Choose your words carefully and remember: when speaking a message for TV or radio, it often isn’t what you say but how you say it. Understanding community sentiment on the issue should be a factor in your planning here.
  • Talk to stakeholders before the issue becomes public or the media comes knocking.
  • A single spokesperson is key but make sure they are trained to respond in pressure situations.
  • Write Q&As and drill your spokesperson to respond.
  • Rehearse responses — just saying them in your head isn’t good enough.
  • Put media (and social media) monitoring in place so you can track the issue.
  • Remember, your internal stakeholders are critical — keep them informed and ‘in the loop’.

Get in touch at smj@imageseven.com.au.

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