"Oops! Did I Say the Wrong Thing?"

       Picture this. During the night your company is thrust into the midst of a potentially debilitating crisis. Upon opening a can of soda that was manufactured in your plant, a woman finds a syringe. The media shows up in the company parking lot just as the first shift arrives in the morning. The first people they encounter in their frenzy to get on-air comments for the morning news are the first shift production line employees. What will they tell the media? How will their reaction (even a 'no comment' or 'we've been told not to talk to the media') be perceived on local television? All good crisis plans include spokesperson preparation. But what about the rest of the employees?

       It is critical that all employees know their role during a crisis. The only way for that to happen is frequent, clear, concise communication. Once a message goes out to the media and, by extension the public, it is very difficult to defuse it. So the first article or TV newscast should cover everything you want the world to know.

       How often do you discuss your communications plan with employees? Do they know their part in a crisis and what they can say? Employees will not intentionally harm the company. But an ill-informed employee can do irreparable harm to an organization's reputation. If they don't know their parameters and don't have accurate information from you, they will be at a loss, and that means nobody wins.