5 essential questions for the first 15 minutes of a crisis
At the onset of any crisis, organizations must determine the answers to these questions promptly.
It has been said that the first hour of a crisis is called the “Golden Hour.”
It is in this hour that key decisions are made and important actions are
taken. What may be determined during this time is whether a company or
organization’s crisis response will be effective or will fail.
So while you may know how important the first 60 minutes are, have you
considered the first 15 minutes? Those “platinum minutes” are the time
when the essential facts are gathered and the crisis team gains crucial
information that will shape the next hours or days of the crisis
In a time of potential crisis, there are questions that should be promptly asked within those first minutes:
1. Focus on the most immediate and pressing issue.
Is there any
current danger to human beings? That clearly should be a subject that is
immediately addressed. Was anyone hurt or injured? In the farming
community, the same questions can be posed for animals involved in a
farm crisis; or for a food company, whether there is damaged product in
2. Get the facts.
Know the time the crisis began, where it happened, and other pertinent topline details.
3. Determine who is involved and who needs to be.
safety or law enforcement officials on site? Do they need to be
notified? Who from within your company or organization is engaged?
4. Identify the community impact.
Does the crisis pose any threat to the community? What about neighbors or those residences or businesses that are nearby?
5. Know where the media stands.
Is media already on-site? Have
there already been stories online or broadcast? Are reporters calling
your company or organization? Is the crisis conversation happening in
social media channels?
As we always advise, the best defense in crisis communications is
preparedness. So when a crisis hits, don’t panic. Keep your cool, gather
the information, engage as necessary, and leverage those first few
minutes to ensure you are ready to face the crisis that lies ahead in a
way that enables you to manage through it and get back to business as
quickly as possible.
Hinda Mitchell is vice president at CMA (@CMABuildsTrust), a national public relations agency based in Kansas City, Mo. A version of this story first appeared on the CMA blog.