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Leaders Letter 139 – Crisis Comms Framework

Dear leaders, this week I am going to answer a private question I received via email about how to handle crisis comms and share my C-R-A-S framework (from my previous days as a CMO & CGO and now offer to my advisory and coaching clients).  

Frameworks are always popular on the leaders letter newsletter, so happily steal a copy of the CRAS framework,  you can use it within your business and leadership team or share it when someone else is struggling. 

C-R-A-S Framework 

Step 1: Clarification  

  • Internal First: what is happening, why is this happening, and how did we get here? How we got here is vitally important to question and answer. 
  • How do we mitigate risks and what is the goal of this crisis? The goal is really important, what goal do we need to aim towards and how are we going to hit this goal? With this plan of action, you will mess up. 
  • External: What is the essential storytelling exercise we are going to have to go on and what story do we need to tell?
    Without being able to tell the what of the story and what are the key narratives in four short paragraphs, you will really struggle to align yourself internally and gain or regain the respect from your customers. 
  • Risks Vs Benefits: Create a risk vs benefits matrix where you review your risks and any benefits from your actions (this is an actionable pros and cons list)

Step 2: Reality 

  • What is the reality and how do we align around this? 
  • What do the next 1-3-6-12 months look like? The next day or week seems the most important but often is the next few months, as you will see the impact on the bottom line, how you are searched for or used and then you may see an impact on the quality of candidates when you are hiring.
  • Document all of the above and have an open document (with the same premise as the transparent decision document) anyone can see (remember view only privileges) and have an open channel to ensure everyone can ask questions and find out the reality. Create an update cadence (hourly, daily, or weekly) for the teams to follow. 

Step 3: (The) Activities  

  • Create a list of the proactive or reactive actions required – you will have reactive actions to take, especially when people ask why and when. 
  • What do we need to say? Do we need to say anything? Deadline: When do we need to say it? 
  • What is the situation now? And then what is the next situation? Now and next are often disjointed, it is important to connect the two together
  • Who is going to be the truth-teller (founder, CEO, spokesperson, Operational lead, Marketing?) 
  • Essential Question: Will an internal email, slack/teams message or screengrab impact this (the truth)?  If you have said anything that contradicts what you have said internally to externally will a leaked email or screengrab discredit you? 
  • What is the full timeline? How do you take the steps forward and know what happened and when we are taking action (if any) 
  • How do you reduce this all down into a few bullet points so anyone can understand? Think of investors, non-exec directors, think of advisory boards, shadow boards etc

Step 4: Stepback & Feedback 

This is listening and analysis mode: 

  • What is the feedback you receive? 
  • What is the internal feedback? 
  • What is the external feedback? Can you cut through numerous rounds of opinions and understand the actual pieces of feedback
  • How do you log and revisit the process to understand how to learn from this?
    Action: Create a home (wiki or intranet) where this information lives to reduce any issues raise again and how can we learn from this when we may have issues in the future? 
  • And how do we inform the important stakeholders of an (AAR) after-action review moving forward? – The analysis is essential as is the review, most overlook the after action review 

Go and have a great week ahead and remember a crisis is worth planning for and having the frameworks in place to protect your people and your performance. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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