Best Practices for Initial Crisis Response

According to Coombs, the guideline for initial crisis response focuses on three points: be quick, be accurate and be consistent.

Quickness and accuracy play an important role in public safety, because slow or inaccurate responses can increase the risk of injuries and possibly deaths. Quick actions can also prevent further damage and protect reputations by showing that the organization is in control of the situation. The philosophy of speaking with one voice in a crisis is an effective way to maintain accuracy. As the news media are drawn to crises and can reach a wide array of publics quickly, it is logical that media relations is a key part of crisis response. Crisis managers should also express concern/sympathy for any victims of the crisis. Expressions of concern are expected by stakeholders and recommended by crisis experts, but are not admissions of guilt. Organizations did experience less reputational damage when an expression of concern is offered verses a response lacking an expression of concern.

Coombs summarizes Best Practices for Initial Crisis Response below:

  1.  Be quick and try to have initial response within the first hour.
  2.  Be accurate by carefully checking all facts.
  3. Be consistent by keeping spokespeople informed of crisis events and key message points.
  4.  Make public safety the number one priority.
  5.  Use all of the available communication channels including the internet, intranet, and mass notification systems.
  6.  Provide some expression of concern/sympathy for victims
  7.  Remember to include employees in the initial response.
  8. Be ready to provide stress and trauma counseling to victims of the crisis and their families, including employees.
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