Google "crisis management" (with the quote marks) and you'll retrieve a list of almost 3 million results, many with links to articles about how companies can manage crises that threaten their existence.
Google "BP crisis management" (also with quote marks) and you’ll get more than 6,000 results, including a link to the article "Visual tools for BP's crisis managers" that appeared in Computerworld in 2008. This article described how a Web-based tool combining 3-D satellite imagery and real-time weather data helped BP crisis managers make quicker, better decisions "when a disaster like a hurricane was barreling down on the company's workers and assets."
One could argue that BP's latest crisis, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, was not caused by Mother Nature, but rather a failure of man-made equipment to control natural processes that occur in oil wells. However, no one can debate that the spill has created an epic disaster that is harming nature, economies, and possibly the well-being of many people — with no immediate relief in sight. In this crisis, so much more is at stake than BP's reputation and assets, which have taken serious hits.
BP is just the latest mega-corporation to need crisis management this year. Toyota still is trying to repair its image following its poor handling of product defects. Companies like BP and Toyota make national headlines when their problems surface, and how they manage their crises receives almost as much scrutiny as the problems themselves.
Your company isn’t a BP or Toyota. Maybe it's a small business that isn't even a blip on the radar screen outside your community. Do you need a crisis management strategy? You bet.
Crisis management is defined as: Actions taken by a company to maintain its credibility and good reputation after a situation has occurred that may affect the company in a negative manner and therefore reduce sales of that company's product or service.
Murphy's law dictates that a such a situation is inevitable. Therefore, it makes good business sense, regardless of the size of your business, to have a plan in place before you need it.
This article on virtualpeople.com and this one on aboutpublicrelations.net offer good reasons why small businesses should have a crisis management strategy and what that strategy should include. As the first article states, "you're most likely not going to have to take responsibility for a major eco-disaster ... but chances are you have to deal with putting out a lot of little fires, and there is a risk of a larger one that could impact your livelihood."
Read these articles and map out your plan. If a situation does arise, you will have to respond quickly and having a strategy in place can lead to a quicker response. Here's hoping that should you ever have to use it, your strategy proves more successful than BP's.
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