Step 1: Gather Information and Assess Crisis
CMT members should verify and share all available information about the emerging crisis as outlined in the crisis plan. This information exchange will enable the CMT to identify the nature and scope of the specific crisis and consider if the planned corporate response is appropriate, given the details of the actual situation. A time should be set to reconvene and share all additional information learned.
CMT members should keep in mind, however, that not all situations presenting problems are true crises. Because overreaction can convert a resolvable problem into a crisis, careful consideration is a necessity.
Once the CMT is able to narrow the scope of the crisis, it should proceed to identify the additional facts needed to manage the situation effectively. For example, the CMT should marshal facts about the following issues:
• Degree of risk to consumers.
• Likely exposure to civil liability.
• Level of government and media scrutiny.
• Extent to which government agencies need to be involved.
• Interference with normal business operations.
• Damage to public image.
• Potential damage to a company’s profit and market position.
The CMT may find that it needs additional expertise to help respond to the information that is being gathered. Other corporate officers who are not part of the CMT should be recruited immediately if they have additional expertise or information. The CMT may also wish to hire outside consultants in specific areas as relevant information is received. For example, public relations and security consultants, as well as specialized legal counsel, are often retained to advise the CMT. Note: If possible, identify outside legal security and public relations counsel well in advance so they are familiar with your business before a crisis hits. Also, to be effective, they must be engaged at the first moment of a crisis -- not well into a crisis. Throughout this process, the CMT should remain the company’s primary conduit for fact gathering.