Crisis Management for Tomorrow

Erik Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, crisis preparation, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jeff Chatterton, Jonathan Bernstein, PR, public relations Leave a Comment

The incident is over, but the crisis has just begun

Most organizations understand the need to have crisis management plans to cope with immediate issues like fires, machinery failures or violence in the workplace.

However, crises aren’t over just because the incident’s drawn to a close. In fact, they’re only getting started.

In a recent post on the Checkmate Public Affairs blog, Jeff Chatterton described what he calls “D-Day Plus One”:

‘D-Day Plus One (or two, etc)’ is when nervous sponsors want to know why they should continue the relationship with your festival or special event. If you’re in aviation, this is when FAA inspectors who want to know where you screwed up, or airport authorities start blaming YOUR procedures.

Along with questions from sponsors or inspectors, you’ll face interrogations from shareholders, the media and other interested parties. At the same time, your handling of the situation will be dissected on social media and all the while you can bet rumors will be rushing to fill any gaps in communication.

How do you avoid, as Jeff put it “landing on the beach and staying put?”


Funny how this step keeps popping up regardless of what aspect of crisis management we’re discussing, isn’t it? Fact is, planning is the #1 way to keep your organization afloat in a crisis.

Plot out individual and team responsibilities that extend to the days after a crisis breaks, to include everything from media relations and shareholder communications down to who will be answering the phones or fielding customer emails. You know you’re likely to be working extended hours, so it helps to cover small details like food deliveries and possibly even sleeping schedules when possible.

There are too many possibilities in any given crisis, so create specific action plans for those deemed probable and have flexible generic plans to cover broad categories of the less likely.


How do you get good at something? Practice of course! Take that plan and put it through trial runs with in-house crisis simulations before you have to tackle the real thing in front of unfriendly eyes. You’ll spot potential flaws or weak spots, and everyone will be more comfortable and effective in their roles.


You’ve put your plan through its paces and stopped up any holes, now it’s time to get to work. Don’t get knocked off course by a bit of turbulence, have faith in your planning and, barring the introduction of any game-changers, see it through. Do your best to keep employee morale high and issue regular reminders of what NOT to do, ie. “please do NOT have a talk with the nice men holding cameras when you leave work today.”

Crisis management never really ends, it only shifts gears. Keep that in mind and you’ll be better off for it.

The BCM Blogging Team

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