Developing a Crisis Management Plan
“Houston, we have a problem.”
Even the most professionally run businesses, including law firms, occasionally run into times of crisis.
In the specific example of a law firm, crises can arise in many forms, like issues that compromise operations, financial dilemmas, and ultimately, problems that threaten or damage the integrity and reputation of a firm.
Entertaining thoughts of potential predicaments can be uncomfortable, not to mention daunting. However, as is the case in any type of disaster scenario, it is best to have an anticipatory plan of action in place before catastrophe occurs. Doing so can be the difference between putting out the fire and fanning the flames in times of crisis.
Better Safe Than Sorry – Planning Ahead
It is best to take action before there is an actual need for damage control. In times of stress, it can be difficult to keep one’s composure and think things through in a calm and rational manner. Taking the time to work things out before there is an element of urgency is the best plan.
Creating a crisis management plan, carefully choosing a crisis team and testing out virtual scenarios are good places to start. We’re in that very process now of revamping our crisis management plan. Heaven forbid a crisis arises in our firm, but if it does, we will be prepared.
Huddle Up – Creating a Crisis Management Plan
Assigning roles and tasks to individuals within a crisis management team can save valuable time during an actual predicament. Each person on the team is given an outline of responsibilities to tend to, ensuring that things are done in a timely and efficient manner. Carefully crafting a team of integral players in case of crisis will streamline the overall plan.
Best Face Forward – Choosing a Spokesperson
Choosing the correct person to be the face of the firm is important for various reasons. First, it provides the media with a representative that can answer questions and debunk myths. Second, he or she can target the main points that the firm would like to get across to the public, eliminating the natural suspicion that can crop up when taking a tight-lipped approach to media questioning. It’s always better to say something than not at all, and when you are prepared, then you won’t be caught off guard.
Watch Your Words – Addressing the Media
It is essential that any sensitive information that could cause further damage be withheld from all media outlets. Choosing words carefully before allowing the spokesperson to speak publicly can save a lot of time trying to backtrack and correct misunderstandings. Once information is released, it is difficult to control how the media chooses to use it.
Getting Drafted – Pre-Planning Your Response
In keeping with the theme of planning, having a pre-drafted message ready and waiting for use is another element that can be completed ahead of time in order to simplify a crisis plan. Using a general template, a pre-drafted message can be composed and updated to specify the exact situation when an issue arises. These types of messages can then easily be integrated into messages to the public and press releases with minimal effort.
You Know The Drill – Practicing for Success
When a crisis plan has been organized ahead of time, it gives members of the crisis team an opportunity to test out the plan in a safe and controlled environment. This is the time to run through roles and procedures and work out any kinks before having to put it into place in real life.
If and when the moment of crisis does occur, being prepared will simply give the firm the confidence and tools needed to handle the situation with class and professionalism – characteristics that will convey the true standards of your firm.
Information gathered from “Crisis PR and Your Law Firm’s Reputation” by Dave Bloom, found in Volume 2, No.2 of Attorney at Law Magazine Greater Miami