The Crisis Management Wake-up Call for Communities, Government, Law Enforcement and Business

baltimore policeBy Gerard Braud

Generally we talk about crisis communications. But sometimes, we need to talk about crisis management. If we manage a crisis to keep it from happening, then we don’t need to communicate about it. Often, crisis management can begin by looking at case studies.

The crisis in Ferguson, Missouri should have been a wake-up call that should have prevented the Baltimore riots from happening. The Baltimore crisis should be the wake-up call that prevents the next community crisis from happening. These are only two community crises that should warn us all that more will follow, if crisis management action isn’t taken.

Most amazing to me is how frequently police officers are caught on video these days doing something wrong. A law enforcement agency can have 1,000 perfect officers, but they only need one rogue police officer to bring an entire department and community to its knees. The number of unjustified shootings and arrests being captured on video is astounding. Each becomes a high profile example of a growing problem, regardless of all of the many justified arrests made by officers.

The margin for error is small. Wake up. Video cameras are everywhere. This is not a suggestion that officers need to learn how to avoid being recorded and caught. This is a suggestion that crisis management in communities must begin with self correction of bad behavior. Good cops need to weed out the bad cops. Police departments need to establish new integrity standards to weed out the bad officers before their behavior paralyzes another department and community.

Likewise, elected officials and police chiefs in every community need to enact crisis management techniques designed to aggressively weed out the rogue individuals who wear a badge. The high cost of human life and community destruction demand it.

As part of a crisis management strategy, elected officials need to start managing the crisis of poverty, under-performing schools, unemployment, and other community problems. No small task, but again, the high cost of human life and community destruction demand it. Aggressive policing in a high crime area doesn’t correct the problem, it only treats the symptom.

Preventing a crisis is economically more affective that dealing with the crisis and the aftermath.

Those of you in business, likewise, need to exercise your own crisis management by meeting with elected officials and law enforcement to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they are taking action. Their failings hurt you financially.

Businesses and business groups can also take direct action in communities to improve the quality of life, without waiting for government to lift the heavy load alone. Business groups can circumvent government to establish community centers, youth mentorship programs, and job training programs.

As we’ve seen in Baltimore, Ferguson and other communities, businesses are incapacitated and often destroyed when the crisis gets out of hand. Business pays a heavy price.

As it stands now, Ferguson and Baltimore have ignited the fires of frustration. Each serves as a model for the next community to follow. Now that the die is cast, you can expect each sequential crisis to be bigger than those before it.

The task of proactively changing a community is difficult. Failure to tackle the difficult task is costly.

What will you do?

4 Considerations When Speaking About the Baltimore Crisis

baltimore riots 2By Gerard Braud

What do you think about the crisis going on in Baltimore?

Before you verbalize your answer, think not just about your answer to the question, but also the impact your answer could have on the reputation and revenue of your business. This is especially true for those of you who are in businesses that involve face to face contact with customers. While it is true that society needs to have discussions about the important issues of the day, what degree of caution should you consider in voicing a strong opinion to a customer who strikes up a conversation with you? And, what should be the guidelines for you or your employees when you consider whether it is appropriate to strike up a conversation with a customer?

Anastasia Turchetta is a Registered Dental Hygienist and host of Hump Day Happenings, a video blog for the dental industry.

Small business owners, such as her dental clients are faced with two situations when top news breaks. Situation one is that a customer may initiate a discussion about the controversial issues of the day. Situation two is that the business owner or their employees initiate a discussion.

This raises four questions:

1) Is this the right time and place to talk about these important issues?

2) Could the conversation result in the customer getting angry and taking their business somewhere else?

3) Is that a risk you are willing to take?

4) What advice should be given to business owners and their employees?

If an event affects your reputation and revenue, a crisis exists, in some degree. If customers elect to buy goods or services from someone else because they feel slighted by your business, then you have an emerging crisis.

In the video blog, Anastasia reminds us of what many of us were taught by our parents, which is to never talk about religion and politics.

In addition to the decision you make about having controversial conversations with your customers in person, you must also think about the personal opinions a business owner and their employees post to social media. Be especially aware of those employees who have accepted friend requests from customers.

Each employer, whenever there are hot button issues in the news, should consider what they should say to their employees face to face, as well as on social media.

My advice is that if you are passionate about the issues of the day, seek out the proper venue or community group to enact change. But consider carefully how your personal opinions and those of your employees will affect your livelihood, revenue and business.

I personally know of many case studies in which entertainers, celebrities and business owners have been put out of business and lost all they owned because of how and where they voiced their opinions. Consider what price you are willing to pay.