Deciding what to do when a crisis is unfolding is about the worst time to say to yourself, hmmm, guess we should have done that crisis management plan.
Planning vs dealing with fallout.
If putting together a crisis management plan seems daunting, think about the ramifications of not having one to begin with. As we have all witnessed in the digital age, crisis run from small to big to catastrophic. Entire restaurant empires have crumbled under duress and small situations are reacted to emotionally and come back to bite the restaurant’s business. Crisis management falls under the category of a PR Plan/Strategy. It is a way to deal with the fallout from a negative or potentially dangerous situation.
The range is wide. From a natural disaster to a gas main explosion impacting lives and your restaurant to a bad review, being prepared for worse to worst case scenarios can save you big time in the moment (and in the end). Let’s say it is a dangerous situation to people’s physical well-being, obviously you are going to call 911 first. But what do you do second and third? And who is responsible for communicating with the stakeholders and carrying out these activities. Better to know that beforehand.
How to create a basic plan:
Google to find situations or create your own. Write the steps to how this situation will be handled, and it creates a framework from which to operate when the crisis emerges. And inevitably everyone has some sort of a crisis in their restaurant career.
- Designate a spokesperson and a back-up person who will deliver the message and speak with the public/stakeholders.
- Create messaging around the various types of situations that will need to be delivered to quell the situation.
- Write down the steps that need to be done to ensure that the situation is being handled as well as it can be.
- Keep your stakeholders in the loop in a timely fashion. Writing down the process of what, when, who can help to make this go better than acting ad hoc.
- Assess, Evaluate and Review what happened, how it was managed, and what changes or additions should be made going forward.
For a more detailed starting point, here are a few places to begin:
Think of a crisis management plan as a way to control human emotional response to a crisis situation. Planning just gives a bit of a buffer between the human reaction and the controlled response. Your public will thank you and you will thank yourself in the end.