Can you respond to a crisis within an hour?

If not, you’re too slow. Here are some essential steps to take to become prepared for any debacle your brand might face.

Best-case scenario, your ideal crisis response time is 15 minutes.

Wait. Don’t gasp yet…

Your maximum crisis response time should be one hour.

OK, now you can gasp.

Reality check:

If your team can’t respond to a crisis (or issue) within an hour, you should reevaluate your response process and figure out why.

I work with global enterprises and national organizations, and I know that this isn’t always realistic. But it’s reality.

The sooner you enable your team to respond to a crisis or some other issue, the sooner you:

  • Stop, extinguish, and annihilate any existing and/or potential speculation and rumors around the incident;
  • Meet the expectations of your audience, which in turn enables you to strengthen the relationships you share;
  • Regain control of the situation and give your team the opportunity to turn the negative situation into a positive PR opportunity.

Those are some outstanding benefits for quick social response in a crisis, don’t you think?

How can you bring your crisis response time to an hour or less?

First, you must be monitoring. The better you monitor, the more you know what is said about your brand and the sooner you can detect an existing or looming threat. The sooner you detect the threat, the sooner you can respond to it.

Second, you need to be prepared. This means understanding and outlining:

Third, practice makes perfect. Once you have your crisis and issues teams set up and your crisis and issues communications plan created, it’s time to practice, practice, practice. The risks of crises and issues are heightened today with social media and the realities (and risks) of the online world.

The only way to be sure that your team understands and is prepared to manage these online threats is by empowering them to do so. The more your team practices, the better, quicker, and more confident you will all become.

Remember: The sooner you respond to a crisis or issue situation (even a potential one), the sooner you regain control (or avoid losing it) and the fewer negative repercussions your brand will suffer. Those repercussions can be as severe as long-term reputational damage and a direct hit to your business’s bottom line. And when faced with a crisis situation, the repercussions can last one heck of a long time.

Melissa Agnes, president of Melissa Agnes Crisis Management, is a specialist in online and social media crisis and issues management. She is the editor of an acclaimed daily blog on all aspects of online crisis management. This article originally appeared on MelissaAgnesCrisisManagement.com.

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