10 Ways to Stay Calm in a Crisis

Keep CalmYou just checked your voicemail and a reporter has the story. He wants you to call back immediately because this is big news. He needs a comment and is counting the minutes to your call.

You knew this was coming but your pulse is still racing. You have reviewed your crisis communications plan but your brain feels like you just mainlined three pots of coffee. Part of you wants to call back with your prepared statement while another side of you wants to hide. So what do you do? How do you get yourself under control when the moment arrives?

Take a Breath
Really. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then another. Then another. Now open your eyes and focus on the task at hand.

Preparation
Remember, you knew this was coming. You have a folder filled with everything from statements and talking points to designated spokespeople and social media posts. Even if the specific crisis was unexpected you still have your crisis communications plan, right?

Research
Since you are a well rounded communications executive you have studied other crises in the news. You’ve seen companies turn a crisis into a win. Now it’s your turn.

Perspective
Don’t make your interactions with the media personal. It’s their job to dig and ask the questions they are asking. Step back and look at the problem from their point of view. Try looking at it from the point of view of the public as well. How will this news be presented and digested? Use these perspectives when considering the answers to each question.

Share The Load
Don’t think you have to do it yourself. In fact there are many staff members that need to know about this crisis ASAP. Your colleagues are also full of information that may help. Talk things through and bounce ideas around quickly if you are stuck.

Walk, Don’t Run
Don’t add to the crisis by making foolish mistakes. If you are too quick to respond you may overlook an approval you need or a question that needs to be asked internally.

Stay On Track
Stay focused and don’t let little fires steer you away from the main objective.

Trust In Your Skills
You were hired for a reason. Now is no time to second-guess your abilities. At the very least you will learn from every crisis you handle.

Visualize Success
Imagine the end of the crisis. What do you want the headlines to say? Now identify the steps you have to take to get there.

Be Open to Change
If you are inflexible you will be stressed trying too hard to keep things according to plan. A dialogue can shift focus easily as new facts are brought to light. While you want to stay on message you must be open to the evolution of a crisis.

More posts on crisis communications:

Avoid Premature Crises: 5 Lessons From Dow Chemical’s PR Disaster

Before the Storm: 5 Tips for Facing a Brewing Crisis

10 Tips for Online Crisis Coordination

Calvin and Hobbes on…Crisis Communications

The Terminator: 6 Lessons in Crisis Communications

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4 thoughts on “10 Ways to Stay Calm in a Crisis

  1. Good list. On the success part, I’d add – be realistic. Much like keeping perspective and delegating, you need to apply what you know and realize that ‘success’ may not always look like it. It’s a crisis, sometimes the best outcomes isn’t exactly a win, just less of a loss. FWIW.

  2. Pingback: Today’s Digest 9. December 2012 » Continuity Management News

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