Implement Crisis Management Best Practices

Don’t be another example of what not to do. Implement an effective crisis response plan to minimize the impact on business continuity, reputation, and profitability.


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Your Challenge

  • Business contingency and IT disaster recovery plans focus on how to resume normal operations following an incident. The missing piece is how does the organization initially respond to and assess an incident, including whether to execute the BCP/DRP.
  • Organizations that don’t have a crisis management plan are far less able to minimize the impact of other crises such as a security breach, health & safety incident, or attacks on their reputation.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • “Soft costs” from ineffective crisis management (e.g. reputational damage) have a significant impact on the bottom line, as measured by a drop in shareholder value.
  • The Target and Home Depot security breaches illustrate the impact of poor crisis management (Target experienced long-term bottom-line impact) versus effective crisis management (Home Depot experienced minimal short-term impact).
  • IT leaders are a critical resource for crisis management, not only for IT-related incidents but also to support crisis response activities such as communications.

Impact and Result

  • Create a crisis management plan that provides a framework for responding to any crisis, from health and safety incidents to business disruptions to reputational damage.
  • Establish a hierarchy of crisis management teams to expedite crisis assessment and response.
  • Pre-plan for likely potential crises to improve your ability to respond to those crises and implement a structure that can be applied to a wide range of other potential crises. 


  • Melissa Agnes, Crisis management speaker and consultant, President and co-founder of Agnes + Day Inc.
  • Timothy Coombs, Professor and author in the field communications and crisis management, University of Central Florida
  • Tim Hickernell, Independent Consultant
  • Deb Hileman, CEO, Institute for Crisis Management
  • Ann Hutchison, Senior HR Advisor and Crisis Communication Instructor, Western University
  • Bernard Jones, Owner/Principal, B Jones BCP Consulting, LLC
  • Larry Liss, CTO, Blank Rome LLP
  • John A. Parnell, Belk Chair of Management and author in the field strategic and crisis management, University of North Carolina-Pembroke
  • Tony Ridley, CEO, Intelligent Travel
  • Kevin Warner, Security and Compliance Officer, BRIDGE Healthcare Partners

Get the Complete Storyboard

See how all the steps you need to take come together, with tools and advice to help with each task on your list.

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Get to Action

  1. Identify and prioritize potential crises

    Determine relevant smoldering and sudden crises and prioritize them according to highest threat. 

  2. Identify crisis management gaps

    Use a tabletop planning exercise to discover gaps and vulnerabilities in the organization's crisis management plan.

  3. Create crisis management teams (CMTs)

    Document all the necessary members of the CMTs and identify third parties that will assist the organization during a crisis. 

  4. Define emergency response and situational assessment plans

    Create pre-determined crisis frameworks that establish processes for the crisis.

  5. Establish the ethical base communication plan

    Develop a specific set of communication documents that will address the base level crisis communication needs.

  6. Define a plan for reputation repair

    Devise a tailored crisis response strategy that will be most effective in dealing with the crisis.

  7. Test the crisis management plan

    Conduct tabletop plans based on a crisis from the prioritized list and a worst-case scenario involving compound crises.

  8. Leverage lessons learned to improve the crisis management plan

    Establish action items to further optimize the ideal crisis management plan.

Guided Implementation icon Guided Implementation

This guided implementation is a nine call advisory process.

    Guided Implementation #1 - Identify potential crises and crisis management gaps

  • Call #1: Identify and prioritize potential crises

  • Call #2: Identify current capabilities and gaps

  • Guided Implementation #2 - Define initial response and assessment plans

  • Call #1: Identify CMT roles and responsibilities

  • Call #2: Define your situational assessment plan

  • Guided Implementation #3 - Develop a crisis communication plan

  • Call #1: Understand “ethical base” in your strategy

  • Call #2: Define your ethical base and reputation repair communication strategy

  • Call #3: Implement crisis communication best practices

  • Guided Implementation #4 - Optimize the overall crisis management plan

  • Call #1: Plan your crisis management tests

  • Call #2: Implement an organizational learning process to leverage lessons learned from testing and actual crises

Onsite Workshop

Module 1: Identify Potential Crises and Your Crisis Management Gaps

The Purpose

  • Identify and prioritize relevant potential crises.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Enable crisis management pre-planning, and identify gaps in current crisis management plans.

Activities: Outputs:
1.1 Identify and prioritize smoldering crises
1.2 Identify and prioritize sudden crises
  • Prioritized list of potential crises
1.3 Evaluate current crisis management process and identify gaps
  • Current crisis management plan status and gaps identified

Module 2: Define Initial Response and Assessment Plans

The Purpose

  • Define your crisis response framework.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Enable a timely and effective initial response to wide range of crises.

Activities: Outputs:
2.1 Identify the crisis management teams as well as roles and responsibilities
  • Teams and contact information documented
2.2 Define an emergency response process
  • Notification and escalation process
  • Emergency response process
2.3 Define and document the situational assessment process
  • Situational assessment process
  • Overall crisis response framework

Module 3: Develop a Crisis Communication Plan

The Purpose

  • Define a crisis communication process and overall strategy.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Minimize reputational damage through effective and appropriate crisis communication.

Activities: Outputs:
3.1 Establish the ethical base communication plan
3.2 Define a communication plan for reputational repair
  • Crisis communication process flowchart
3.3 Implement best practices for internal and external communications
  • Crisis communication templates for pre-planned messages

Module 4: Optimize Your Overall Crisis Management Plan

The Purpose

  • Implement a process for continuous improvement of your crisis management plan.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Improve your crisis management capability by learning from previous crises, plan reviews, and testing.

Activities: Outputs:
4.1 Test your crisis management plan against the identified potential crises as well as a worst-case scenario
  • Post-crisis review (organizational learning) process
4.2 Formalize the post-crisis review process to ensure lessons learned are identified and addressed in your crisis management plan
  • Crisis management plan review and testing schedule

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Onsite Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn’t enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our Project Workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a road map in place to complete your project successfully.

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