(By Loyd Ford) We all know that this is a “special” year, but in radio every year can have a crisis or two. Tuning up your crisis management is never a bad idea. So how do you handle a crisis in 2020? Do you have a local crisis policy for your radio station or cluster? Here are some tips to think about as you review your crisis plan.
- No matter what your job title is in your organization, you should use a great phrase from a former boss of mine. He always said, “I want good news immediately and bad news fifteen minutes before it occurs.” Translation: Don’t ever sit on bad news. A large part of your value as an employee is to alert your bosses immediately if something looks concerning to you because more brains on problems generally means faster containment. When the brains in your organization are alerted early to a crisis, it is essentially giving them the power to make small problems go away before they become more serious problems.
- If you are a manager in a cluster or your job title is at the VP level, you are to be encouraged to make sure all the people reporting to you know they won’t be punished for bringing you bad news. If you need to know why this is an important policy, please see number 1 above.
- Try to control your worries and focus on understanding the facts. When we learn things are going wrong, the old saying is right: First reports from the front are often wrong and things are usually never as bad or as good as you think. Usually, the sky is not falling. Deal with the facts and make smart decisions to contain and get to the bottom of a crisis so you can make it go away as fast as possible.
- Work to resolve the crisis from the moment you become aware of it, but don’t take a short cut to get there. It is critical to have a strategy that reduces crisis and lowers the downside risks involved with a crisis as you continue to address it.
- Whatever you do, tell the truth. Don’t lie. Don’t sidestep. Don’t spin things. Take control and take the high ground of truth. See number 3 above. Notice how you are using these steps again and again. That’s because keeping things simple in solving a crisis is best. Being truthful is the fastest way to get to the bottom of something and fix it. Taking a short cut or spinning the truth may simply create an additional crisis that is actually larger than the original problem.
- Don’t give the media a fire to continue to grow this crisis into more news stories (or poor attention for your company). If you have to provide a statement, check with your bosses first to make certain the company approves of any response and only give an approved and measured response that addresses things the way the company wants the crisis to be addressed with the media. That statement should distance and minimize the situation without using misdirection.
- Don’t ever act rapidly without fully thinking process, people, actions and potential consequences. You don’t want to overreact to what is happening. Make firm moves when you are certain of your actions to contain and minimize the crisis.
- If the crisis is big enough, build a team big enough to function as a unit, but don’t allow a crisis to take over the attention of your entire staff. You have a business to run. Create containment and do that with a team you trust.
- Pay attention to how stress and fatigue can impact your team if the crisis stretches longer than several days. You don’t want your team to fracture and make room for another crisis.
- Establish clear communication of who is responsible for what and make certain you oversee individual actions to make certain things go the way they are intended to be ‘fixed.’ After all, trust but verify.
- Pay attention to the core values of your company, your management team, your cluster and station. You don’t want the strain of sudden crisis to change who you are or what you are doing.
The best way to “handle” crisis hasn’t changed just because it is 2020. Establish a good prevent-defense, but think about your overall crisis plan and use these eleven (11) tips to help you create a significant plan of action should crisis show up in your cluster or company this year. Nobody likes crisis, but if you are calm, effective and have a plan for meeting the challenge of a crisis, your team will respond well to you and your value in the company will rise. And that’s worth doing in 2020 or any year.
Loyd Ford consults radio stations, coaches personalities, and provides behavioral and strategic programming to radio with RPC. Reach him anytime. 864.448.4169 or [email protected]