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Step 3: Refine and Prepare Your Crisis Management

Once you determine internally the possible crises that you may face and additional personnel who would need to be involved in managing those crises, make a comprehensive list for inclusion in a “living” looseleaf notebook that will be your bible during a crisis: your Crisis Resource Book.

The personnel list should include the telephone, email addresses, fax, cell phone and beeper numbers of each CMT member. Wallet-sized cards can be prepared and laminated to be carried by members of the CMT at all times. These individuals must be reachable on a 24-hr basis.

The CMT also should designate individuals who will assume the day-to-day corporate responsibilities of each member for those periods when he or she won’t be available during a crisis. This information should be included in the Crisis Resource Book. The identity of the CMT should be well publicized throughout the company so that team members can be contacted by other corporate officials at a moment’s notice.

Scope of Authority

To the extent possible, the Crisis Management Team Leader (or the most senior official in the company) should define the scope of authority vested in the CMT. The CMT will be more efficient if, at the beginning of a crisis, it already know the extent to which it can make decisions about product recalls, product embargoes, lawsuits, investigations, strikes, the media and government investigators. If the CMT does not have authority to make decisions about these issues, the plan should clarify who within the company has that authority. If only the Chairman of the Board has such authority, for example, the crisis management plan should state that fact. The crisis management plan should also describe the order of succession for company officers in case one or more of the officers in unable to perform his or her duties as a result of the crisis.

Once the CMT is established and its charter clarified, the group can focus its attention on establishing the company’s crisis response procedures. These procedures will address the remaining core elements of a basic crisis management plan: information gathering, awareness of legal rights and responsibilities, appropriate response to address problems and communications.