By Lynn Holley

Most of the time, crises that pop up in organizations can be handled with well-thought-out crisis communications plans that, with some tweaking, can be adapted to a number of scenarios. Then there are the issues that come out of left field. The nightmares … 

For example, back in the early 2000s, no one anticipated the purchase of a $6,000 shower curtain would gain enough ballyhoo to contribute to the demise of the CEO of Tyco International. Author Catherine Neal wrote about the distinctive notoriety of the situation in her book, “Taking Down the Lion: The Triumphant Rise and Tragic Fall of Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski,” noting that, “In the history of civilization, this was one of only two famous shower curtains.” The other is in the film “Psycho.”

In reality, many of these unforeseen situations can be uncovered sooner and minimized significantly with the right strategies in place. Here are six key strategies for successful crisis communications: 

1. Bring in an outside crisis communications expert.

Specifically, a crisis communications expert who resides and subsists beyond the confines of the company. This individual or team should have a mandate to dig deep to find potential liabilities without repercussions and roadblocks.

2. Institute a regular review of your company’s vulnerabilities.

And, for the purposes of objectivity, it is best to have this activity lead by the outside crisis communications expert(s). Any organization benefits from knowing where it’s vulnerable.

3. Make sure your crisis communications team includes someone with exceptional research skills.

This means finding someone who can do more than a Google search. In the event you have an individual or group coming after your company, you need to have a high level of knowledge about them and their motives because they most certainly have spent a lot of time researching you.

4. Communicate frequently with stakeholders.

They want to feel in the loop and to the extent that you can, inform them of what’s going on. If you wait to communicate with them until after a campaign against your company starts, you’re on the defensive and any counter action becomes more difficult.

5. Give stakeholders the tools they need to gain more clarity on your business.

To ensure the above situation works well, make sure stakeholders, along with industry analysts, understand your business strategies.

6. Know which stakeholders can leverage the most power. 

Their power can be used to your benefit or, if you don’t have a good relationship with your stakeholders, the opposite. Either way, it’s valuable information to have.