Crisis Team Truths

DSC_0004By Gerard Braud

Many public relations people call their Crisis Communications Team a Crisis Team. The problem is, many other people in the same organization also claim to have a Crisis Team.

We have word confusion. Every company should have these teams:

1. Crisis Management Team

2. Crisis Communications Team

3. Incident Command Team or Emergency Response Team

4. Risk Management Team or Business Continuity Team

A proper crisis response structure would work as follows:

The Crisis Management Team would be lead by the CEO or his/her designee. This team includes members of the Crisis Communications Team, the Incident Command Team or Emergency Response Team, and the Risk Management Team or Business Continuity Team. One or two other key people would be on this team. The overall job of this team is to manage and end the crisis.

9thWard-KatrinaVersary-Media_0379The Crisis Communications Team is responsible for spreading the world that a crisis has occurred and what is being done to resolve the situation and return to normal. This team communicates with the media, employees, customers and other key stakeholder groups.

The Incident Command Team or Emergency Response Team responds to the crisis. Their job is to end the emergency and return things to normal.

The Risk Management Team or Business Continuity Team keeps the company running, keeps the supply chains open, and keeps the company profitable.

In the world of public relations, something may be a crisis which will trigger the Crisis Communications Plan and Crisis Communications Team. In this case, the Emergency Response is not needed and Business Continuity is not needed. A sexual harassment case would be an example. By my definition, a crisis is anything that affects reputation and/or revenue. Sometimes it is a sudden crisis, such as a fire and explosion. Other times it is a smoldering crisis that is not an emergency, but could harm reputation and/or revenue.

To avoid confusion, call the teams by their proper terms and never call them a Crisis Team.

Are your teams named correctly?