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Stages of Crisis Management

This is our second exploration into the art of Crisis Management. Please see our first article for a proper introduction!

Today, we are focusing on the three stages of Crisis Management in detail.


The preparation stage is a critical aspect that can make all the difference which defines how your company will survive and emerge from a crisis. During this stage, organizations should develop a comprehensive crisis management plan, which should include clear communication protocols, responsibilities for team members, and procedures for handling different types of crises. A business should focus on several key areas to ensure they are adequately prepared:

⚑ Risk Assessment. Identify potential risks and vulnerabilities that could lead to a crisis, such as natural disasters, cyber attacks, supply chain disruptions, or reputational risks.

⚑ Crisis Management Team. Establish a crisis management team consisting of key personnel from different departments with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

⚑ Communication Plan. Develop a comprehensive communication plan that outlines how information will be shared internally and externally during a crisis.

⚑ Training and Testing. Train the crisis management team on crisis management procedures and conduct regular tests and simulations to ensure readiness and identify areas for improvement.

⚑ Resources and Infrastructure. Ensure the business has the necessary resources and infrastructure in place to respond to a crisis, such as backup systems, emergency supplies, and alternative communication channels.

By investing time and resources into the preparation stage, organizations can better manage and mitigate potential crises, minimize damage, maintain business continuity, and protect their reputation.


The response stage of crisis management is a critical time where swift and effective action is necessary to mitigate the impact of a crisis. During this stage, key actions that must be taken include:

Activation of Crisis Management Plan ━ immediately activate the crisis management plan and assemble the crisis management team to coordinate response efforts.

Communication ━ establish communication channels to keep stakeholders informed of the situation, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the media.

Assessment and Evaluation ━ assess the severity of the crisis and evaluate its potential impact on the business, stakeholders, and the community.

Implementation of Mitigation Strategies ━ implement mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of the crisis, such as activating backup systems, securing facilities, or evacuating personnel.

Recovery Planning ━ begin planning for the recovery phase of the crisis, including the restoration of operations and services, and addressing any longer-term impacts.

A well-executed response should include decisive actions, not just communication. It is vital to take responsibility if necessary, address the root cause of the issue, and make every effort to control the positive narrative.

For example, in 2011, a host's apartment was vandalized by guests who had used the Airbnb platform to book their stay. The host shared photos of the damage on her blog, which went viral and sparked a media frenzy. Airbnb responded quickly by implementing a $50,000 Host Guarantee and launching a 24-hour customer service hotline. The company also established a Trust and Safety team to address any future issues and build trust with its community.

In 2018, two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia for sitting in the store without ordering anything. The incident went viral and sparked a national conversation about racial profiling. Starbucks swiftly issued a public apology, announcing a company-wide training on unconscious bias, and implementing a new policy allowing anyone to use the restroom or sit in the store without making a purchase.

Another example shows how lack of empathy and rigid posture can only make things worse. In April 2017, United Airlines faced a public relations crisis after a passenger was violently dragged off an overbooked flight. The incident, which was captured on video and went viral on social media, sparked widespread outrage and condemnation. United's initial response was criticized for being tone-deaf and lacking empathy, with the company's CEO initially apologizing for having to "re-accommodate" the passenger. United's response was further compounded by inconsistent statements from the company and its employees, and a lack of transparency about the incident. The company eventually reached a settlement with the passenger and implemented new policies to address overbooking and passenger re-accommodation, but the incident had a lasting impact on the company's reputation and highlighted the importance of effective crisis management.


After the active crisis phase has passed, the path to recovery is just starting to come into play. You must focus on returning the organization to normal operations and addressing any long-term impacts of the crisis. Key actions taken during the recovery stage include:

Assessment and Analysis.

Conduct a thorough assessment of the impact of the crisis, including any damage to facilities, equipment, and reputation, and analyze the effectiveness of the crisis management plan.

Resource Allocation.

Allocate resources to repair any damage caused by the crisis and prioritize the recovery of critical systems and services.


Continue to communicate with stakeholders, providing updates on the recovery process and any changes to operations or services. Recognize and give credit to the staff for their excellent performance where applicable and reward them.

Evaluation and Improvement.

Evaluate the organization's response to the crisis and identify areas for improvement in the crisis management plan.

Preparation for Future Crises.

Develop strategies to better prepare the organization for potential future crises, including revising the crisis management plan, conducting training and simulations, and implementing new technology and procedures.


Every crisis is unique and will require a tailored approach. However, the three stages of crisis management ━ Preparation, Response, and Recovery ━ provide a framework for organizations to develop and implement effective crisis management strategies. By focusing on key actions during each stage, organizations can minimize the impact of a crisis and restore normal operations.

Always remain prepared. Respond quickly and transparently, taking responsibility where necessary. Learn to adapt and make changes to your operations as a long-term response to a crisis event. And do not forget to contact us for your crisis response needs! 😎

© 2023 HC Media & PR Strategies.
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