Are You Ready for a Crisis?

Posted by: AmberRoberts in: Financial Services -

Financial services brands engage in painstaking efforts to cultivate their reputations. Earning and maintaining the confidence of clients and stakeholders is paramount, as these individuals are selective about with whom they entrust their assets. That said, how well insulated is your brand from the unexpected?

Crisis situations come in many forms, from cyber fraud and questionable business practices to natural and manmade disasters. Household names like United Airlines, Wells Fargo, Target and Volkswagen, for instance, are tarnished in the minds of many due to security lapses and questionable ethics. While some crises may be impossible to avoid, you can control the response and mitigate damage to the brand. Preparation is key.


  1. Establish clear roles and responsibilities. Emotions tend to run high during crises and may color judgement. To maintain composure and clarity, establish a crisis communications plan to serve as a guide. Define who will take charge of decisions and communications, and ensure that all responsible individuals are familiar with the plan and their roles.
  2. Rank potential crisis situations. Invest time brainstorming potential crises, and rank situations according to their likelihood and impacts. While your crisis plan should provide general guidelines for navigating any potential event, more detailed scenario briefs should be created to prepare your team for those that pose the biggest threat to your business and your brand reputation.
  3. Develop detailed action plans. Once you’ve ranked potential crises, develop detailed action plans and messaging around the top most likely and most damaging scenarios, giving yourself a guide for the tone you want to convey as well as important points to address. Make sure your action plans address all your communication channels and includes proactive communication to all stakeholders. For example, while social media can be a forum for individuals to express negative emotions when impacted by a crisis, it’s also a channel that enables a brand to immediately communicate the facts about the issue and the plan for solving it. And always start with employees who are key to maintaining trust and lessening the potential for panic.
  4. Conduct scenario drills. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen to determine if your response plan is effective. Conduct drills with the crisis team and any external partners, such as your PR firm, evaluate the results, identify areas that need improvement and adjust accordingly.
  5. Revisit the crisis plan on a regular basis. Keep team contact information updated, consider augmenting plans with new or developing threats to a business or industry, evaluate current regulatory compliance procedures and carry out regular practice sessions to test effectiveness. 


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