The crisis management process in a nutshell

Crisis management process

The crisis management process requires a prior plan. The times of playing the ostrich - burying your head in the sand in the hope that the problem will pass - are gone forever. Crisis management it should not be merely reactionary. It should also include preventive measures. Since a crisis can affect any organization, it is worth preparing for it in advance. Effective crisis management can significantly reduce the damage a company suffers as a result of a crisis.

What will you learn from the article?

In the face of increasingly new challenges faced by the modern business world, the ability to effectively manage crisis is becoming essential for every organization. In our latest entry, we will focus on the crisis management process - we will discuss what it is and why it is so important. We will also look at how conflicts within organizations, often seen as an inevitable part of doing business, can be managed and even transformed into a driving force for growth and innovation. Are you ready to explore the secrets of effectively dealing with crises and find out how they can affect the future of your organization? We invite you to read.

How soon can it appear crisis? It took less than 15 minutes before the problem at United Airlines turned into a corporate crisis in 2017. With multiple smartphone tapes capturing the confrontation between security and the passenger on board United Flight 3411, the incident quickly turned into a global story. It is unforgivable to underestimate the speed at which information is spread in the age of social media. Modern companies realize that they cannot really underestimate anything. A ready-to-implement crisis management process waits for the "start" button to be pressed whenever necessary. 

Crisis management process - definition

Every enterprise, even the best managed one, is exposed to crisis situations. For this reason, it is worth taking appropriate steps and actions that will reduce the risk of such situations. The crisis management process comes in handy. The definition allows you to fully understand what it is, but also what its main purpose is. According to the Act, crisis management is "an activity (...) that consists in preventing crisis situations, preparing to take control over them through planned actions, reacting in the event of crisis situations, removing their effects (...)".

Preparing an enterprise for sudden and unexpected situations and minimizing their damage are the main tasks carried out by the crisis management process. The definition of this phenomenon emphasizes that it is a strategy adopted by the company, and therefore requires appropriate knowledge and full understanding of crises, how they can affect the organization and how it can deal with them. This strategy requires a specific plan that is implemented in crisis situations.

The crisis management process - what is it? 

There are many definitions of a crisis. It certainly poses a serious threat to the company's day-to-day operations. No plan and take effective steps, it can have really negative consequences. In crisis management, the threat is not really the incident itself that triggered the crisis. The potential damage is dangerous crisis can harm the organization and its stakeholders.

There are three main, interrelated threats that a crisis may create. This has a negative impact on the company's security and finances and may result in loss of reputation. Some crises, such as industrial accidents and product failure, can result in injury or even death. Crises can cause financial lossesdisrupting the business, causing a loss of market share or customer outflow. They expose the costs associated with lawsuits and make the company loud, but not in a positive sense. 

Do you know that conflict in the organization is nothing out of the ordinary?

It is enough to be well prepared for it.

One thing is certain - all crises threaten to damage the reputation of the organization. The three areas where threats may arise are interrelated. Injury or death of an employee while performing work result in loss of money and reputation. Reputation on the other hand has an impact on the financial aspects. An effective crisis management process means solving emerging problems sequentially.

What are the goals of the crisis management process?

We divide crisis management into pre-crisis, in-crisis and post-crisis situations. The overriding goal of management is to prevent crisis situations. The key is to constantly monitor the changing market situation. Analysis of all mentions of the company appearing in various media sources. Well-thought-out enterprise management. Acting according to a strictly defined plan and taking care of good PR - inside and outside the organization. Sometimes crisis situations cannot be avoided. According to some, they are an integral part of the company's functioning. It is therefore important to be prepared for any eventualities. Each company should create a decent strategy and action scenarios that will improve the process of coping with the crisis when it arises.

Crisis management objectives

The goals of crisis management are: limiting the development of a crisis situation, reducing the impact of the crisis on the resources and values of the company, minimizing losses and restoring a stable situation. The key to success is the quick recognition of a crisis situation. The goal is to identify:

  • sources of the crisis (internal and external) - these may be: unclear organization policy, incorrect goals, bad management style, budgeting irregularities, bad information flow, poor production quality, technical product errors,
  • symptoms of a crisis - that is, signals that inform about the development of a crisis phenomenon; e.g. decrease in profitability, increase in debt, difficulties in financing current activities, conflicts within the company, undermining the authority of the management,
  • factors that triggered the crisis - specific events that disrupt the implementation of tasks.

Crisis management process

The sooner a crisis is caught, the less damage it will generate. An important goal of the crisis management process is to find solutions to problems - preferably when the first symptoms appear. The crisis management team should strive to ensure that the crisis does as little damage as possible.

The goal of post-crisis management is to make the necessary changes in the areas affected by the crisis. An in-depth analysis of the situation and the procedure that has been implemented. As well as drawing conclusions and improving the crisis management strategy - which will prepare the company for possible crisis situations in the future.

The stages of crisis management 

The first step is preparation. A proactive approach, e.g. organizing a brainstorming session, will allow you to list all potential crises that may occur in the company. The simple rule is to accept Murphy's Law, "What can go wrong, go wrong, and even worse." However, some situations can be prevented by simply modifying processes. Assessing which specific areas to address change should lead to a response plan that takes into account the crisis management process.

Emergency response plan it should be tailored to the organization and include both operational and communication elements in a crisis situation. Just as important as what the company does is how and what it will say. Accepted communication strategy it must be effective. In order for the messages contained in the emergency response plan to be delivered effectively and credibly, it must be tested. How? During crisis training and simulations. All employees should participate, especially those who will make statements and give interviews.

Crisis management process


Crisis management process requires the appointment of a small team of senior managers to act as the company's crisis communication team. Ideally, it should include an action person public relations, and, if necessary, also a legal advisor. The most important thing is that everyone knows what to say and do and what not to say. It's worth making sure it's created clear crisis communication process and handed it over to employees. Before anything alarming happens, it is good practice to establish a media notification and monitoring system.

Knowing what employees, customers and other stakeholders say about the company in traditional and social media often allows you to spot a negative "trend". In turn, if it is not controlled, over time it may turn into a crisis. The same applies to monitoring stakeholder feedback during a crisis. It allows you to precisely adapt the crisis management process to the situation.  

Crisis management process - the most common mistakes

A poorly planned or improperly conducted crisis management process can do more harm than good. What mistakes do companies make most often?

The first one concerns inadequate preparation for possible crisis situations. The key to efficiently managing the management process is finding all possible scenarios for the development of the situation. And then the development of patterns of conduct in the event of the occurrence of given phenomena. Inconsiderate actions may reduce the effectiveness of crisis management.

When a crisis arises, a crisis team should be appointed as soon as possible. The staff should be composed of competent persons who have specialist knowledge in the field of crisis management. Which know the form and nature of the company's operations, and are able to efficiently and effectively perform tasks in stressful and crisis situations. Inappropriate selection of people will extend the crisis management procedure.

Another mistake is pushing communication to the background or choosing the wrong channels. Communication is an important element of crisis management. Therefore, it is important that it is at the highest level - consistent, clear, understandable and professional.

The aspect cannot be overlooked in the crisis management process internal communicationwhich is one of the pillars of every enterprise's everyday functioning. There is therefore no doubt that it is also of great importance in a crisis situation.

Other mistakes made in the crisis management process include:

  • failure to identify the cause of the crisis and, consequently, inadequate management of the entire process and leading to high losses,
  • no immediate reaction to the crisis situation,
  • lack of honesty and authenticity in actions, providing false information, blaming others, no apology or complete failure to refer to the situation,
  • mismatch of the crisis management strategy to the situation - the previously prepared scheme of conduct should be modified in such a way as to suit the specificity of the crisis.

Crisis management process

Media monitoring as part of a crisis management strategy

Time plays a key role in the crisis management process. In the event of a crisis, an immediate reaction is what counts, which will stop the development of the situation. As we well know, the crisis can grow really fast, causing huge losses. Reacting in time and implementing appropriate solutions allows you to overcome the negative effects of the crisis, protects the company against a significant damage to the image, which may adversely affect its further activity on the market.

The key to success is incessant media monitoring, i.e. a detailed analysis of all information about the company in individual media sources. It is important to monitor both traditional media (such as press or television) and online media (mainly social media). Particular attention should be paid to the media of modern technologies. We live in an era of enormous popularity of social media, where everyone can express their opinion on any topic. Unfortunately, a large number of unfavorable comments can cause a storm that will negatively affect the image and reputation of the company.

The analysis of the mentions about the company on your own would be very time-consuming and - due to the large number of communication sources - even impossible to perform. Fortunately, the modern market offers us easy access to effective tools that search for any mention of the company and enable instant feedback in an emergency.

The first tool is the Institute of Media Monitoring. IMM analyzes information appearing in traditional media and on the Internet, and then makes it available in the form of charts, reports and summaries. In addition, it allows you to establish relationships with editorial offices and opinion leaders in Poland, allows you to place press materials in a free online press office, and also analyzes the activities of competitors and monitors advertisements.

Another tool for monitoring traditional and online media is Newspoint. The tool analyzes mentions in real time, which allows for immediate feedback from the company. An interesting function of the platform is to compare the opinions about the brand with the opinions about the competition.

Brand24 is one of the most popular internet monitoring tools. The platform provides quick access to information about the company appearing on the web. Instantly sends notifications of mentions, which enables immediate reaction in a crisis situation. The tool provides a discussion intensity graph, containing data on how much and how a brand is said and what reach it generates.

Other media monitoring tools include: Google Alerts, Unamo, SentiOne, NapoleonCat, and Hootsuite.

Crisis management process

Why is communication during a crisis so important?

The organization should have an established communication channelsby which it will reach internal and external stakeholders as quickly as possible. Communication is the first, second and third principle of crisis management. The early hours are critical, set the tone, and can determine the duration of a crisis. Golden advice for the person responsible for the crisis management process in the company?  

- be as open as possible - say what you know and when you realized it,  

- explain who is involved in dealing with the crisis and what exactly is being done to remedy the situation.  

- remember to correct incorrect information as soon as it occurs.  

As the sun comes out after every storm, every crisis has an end. It should follow the crisis formal analysis. On the one hand, what has been done right, on the other hand, what can be done better next time and how to improve the various elements of the emergency response plan. Once the situation is under control, the company should investigate not only how effective its plan was during the crisis, but also what impact the entire incident had on its employees, brand (s) and reputation.

Crisis management process

The process of crisis management in the company - case study 

Managing a crisis is, in a way, about prevention. We don't want what looks bad at the moment to lead to an even worse situation. The first moment something bad happens, there is fear and a tightness in the stomach. However, you have to run in cold blood. We have very little time to react before a mistake or other accident turns into a disaster that destroys the company's reputation. Let's imagine such a scenario.

In a private kindergarten with a reputation and recognition among parents, someone does not notice that a four-year-old girl left the building unnoticed. A random person found her a few streets away and called the police, thanks to which the child was safely returned to her parents. The story had a happy ending, but the image of the company, which is supposed to ensure safety and care for its clients, began to shake dangerously. Phone calls began to ring from concerned parents and media representatives. They started to gather on Facebook negative comments. Reporters appeared across the street.  

What is the purpose of the crisis management process in this case? Don't let a bad situation get worse. Big mistakes require quick action and difficult decisions. On that day, the company probably laid off two employees responsible for supervising the child. By quickly taking action and focusing on direct communication, presenting the matter "in a human way" and taking responsibility, the company would influence the shaping of media relations and the perception of the event on the Internet. As a result, it would have survived the storm and could continue to thrive.

Crisis management process, organizer of corporate events

When should a crisis management process be implemented?

It may seem trivial, but it works. Sincere apologies - here's what to do first before the crisis management process enters the next stage. It is the only one a way for your business to move forward. On the other hand, avoiding apologizing and thus taking responsibility for the situation only adds fuel to the fire and delays the change of narrative.

Only after a public apology has been issued should the company go into action. You already know that this shouldn't be an ad hoc action. It is best for the company to be prepared in advance for all sorts of possible crises. If any of them occur, quick implementation will allow it to maintain a positive and professional reputation among customers, employees and even competitors. By developing a crisis management plan, considering its possible stages and creating a crisis communication team, you will protect the company from the long-term negative consequences of what happened. 

What negatively affects the crisis management process?

The crisis is unequal to the crisis. Something that worked in the past will not always bring the desired results in the future, so each crisis should be approached individually and the action plan should be adjusted to the current market realities.

The course of the crisis is never linear, but takes the form of a sinusoid. In order to prevent the escalation of negative emotions, we must monitor the environment on an ongoing basis and provide constant access to information to all groups involved in the crisis.

The following factors have a negative impact on the crisis management process: lack of appropriate knowledge, inadequate communication, lack of appropriate operating procedures, improperly selected composition of the crisis management team and the lack of monitoring of the effects of the crisis.

Migration of highly qualified workers can be particularly disadvantageous during a crisis. In order to stop this process and provide colleagues with a sense of security, it is worth using tools that build employees' trust in the management and its decisions. Meanwhile, organizations in times of crisis most often focus on the external environment - the media and the public.

Whether PR agency can help in crisis management?

It sometimes happens that over time an enterprise loses the appropriate distance from a crisis situation. People managing a given organization or working in it for years often fall into the trap of emotionally perceiving the effects of a crisis, which leads to the automatic activation of a defense mechanism or even an attack.

Therefore, it is worth involving external specialists in the crisis management process. One of the advantages of this solution is the ability to learn from other people's mistakes, rather than from your own.

Crisis management process

How to control the crisis management process?

In order to effectively control the development of a crisis situation, it is necessary to focus on the development of appropriate action mechanisms that occur within the three areas of anti-crisis measures.

  • Operational areawhich includes the implementation of appropriate emergency response procedures and guidelines for adequately protecting employees and the company's interests in a crisis situation. Appropriate procedures will allow not only to efficiently deal with the crisis at every stage of its development, but also constitute a point of reference when assessing the activities carried out.
  • Management area, which includes the creation of a crisis management team, i.e. a team of experienced employees with appropriate knowledge and skills in crisis management, as well as the development of potential crisis scenarios that constitute the foundation of a specific action plan.
  • Communication area, which includes the development of appropriate communication with employees, their families, business environment, financial and opinion-forming institutions, media and other groups influencing the development of a crisis situation.

The omission of any of these three areas makes it impossible to fully control the crisis management process. Conflict in the organization is not unusual. The key to success is effective communication, which should be constant, two-way, reliable and based on the principles of mutual respect. It is the lack of information that makes the crisis grow into a scandal, from which it is difficult to come out unscathed. In order to be able to follow the development of the crisis on an ongoing basis and the effects it causes in the minds of recipients, it is worth equipping yourself with an effective tool for monitoring all information and comments appearing in the media and on the Internet.

Crisis management process

Why is it worth developing a crisis management plan?

Having a crisis management plan is essential for every company to effectively recognize and deal with unexpected crisis situations. The crisis management plan not only enables quick identification of threats thanks to the crisis recognition stage, but also defines detailed operating procedures within the prevention and response phases.

A well-prepared and precisely developed plan is the key to minimizing the negative effects of the crisis, as well as to quickly restoring the normal functioning of the organization. Without a doubt, investing in the development of a crisis management plan is a decision that, in the long term, may prove crucial for the security and stability of the company.

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