Most organizations will face a crisis at some time. We have no control over what kind of a crisis hits us, or when it strikes, but our reputation and survival will depend largely on how we respond to it. Fortunately, our response is within our control, so it’s crucial to have a plan in place before a crisis happens. Crises come in many forms, from natural disasters to media storms, from IT failure to malicious damage or a change in the law. But experts Matthew Seeger, Timothy Sellnow and Robert Ulmer suggest that all crises share three elements. Firstly, they threaten your business. Secondly, they take you by surprise. And, thirdly, they give you only a short time to react. You can reduce the impact of a crisis and preserve your reputation, if you’re ready to respond. To start with, establish a crisis team that will be responsible for the plan, organizing training, and testing schedules. You’ll need to make sure that everyone is clear about their roles and that they communicate effectively with one another. Secondly, identify all the things that could go wrong for your organization. These risks could range from the illness or death of a key member of staff to an important supplier letting the business down. Next, narrow your list to the most likely and the most damaging threats. These are your key risks. Consider contacting agencies such as the police, your insurance company, and government departments. They’ll likely have experience of dealing with similar crises and have a vested interest in helping you to plan for them. At stage three you’re ready to develop a plan for each potential crisis. Speak to your key stakeholders who can help you to determine procedures, resources, equipment, and personnel. Of course, the plan is only effective if everyone involved knows what to do and can deliver in difficult circumstances. So organize a full simulation. This will help you to identify and smooth out any glitches. Finally, plan for a full recovery. Ask yourself how you’ll get back to “business as usual” as quickly as possible. Planning can make the difference between surviving a crisis and succumbing to it. To learn more about Planning for a Crisis, Risk Analysis, and Contingency Planning, read the article that accompanies this video.