Coronavirus underlines the need for robust sports crisis planning
The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on not just the world of sport, but society at large.
With travel bans in place, major events postponed or cancelled and a widespread threat to health, it’s vital to ensure your organisation has robust crisis management plans in place.
Whether you work in sport or not, here is the Calacus Checklist to ensure you address the challenges the pandemic and other unforeseen crises can provoke.
1. Undertake a regular crisis audit
What are the biggest risks to your business or organisation?
The coronavirus has laid bare the importance of planning for worst case scenarios however unlikely they might appear to be.
Whether it is staff unable to come to work or having to work from home; suppliers are unable to deliver; or customers or fans unable to come through your doors, there are severe financial implications from a crisis such as this and it’s vital to have a plan in place to deal with it when it arrives.
The fundamental question to ask yourself is “What will my stakeholders expect from my organisation and how can we address those expectations?
2. Prepare crisis protocols
Think strategically, not tactically.
That means, rather than reacting to every little element in isolation, analyse where you are now and where you want to be when the crisis concludes.
It also means thinking of the big picture and planning accordingly to help you to get to that end point based on the current situation.
Only then should you look at your tactics, to assess what can you do to reduce the impact of worst-case scenarios?
Do you have procedures in place if staff need to work from home long-term? If cashflow runs low or suppliers and other stakeholders are unable to meet their commitments, what are you going to do to sustain your organisation?
Preparing your strategy and identifying your priorities when a crisis strikes could be the difference between staying in business or going under.
What resources will you need to keep the organisation running?
3. Who are you talking to and what are you saying?
At times of crisis, communication is vital to maintain transparency and confidence and build trust.
It goes without saying that you have to be compassionate and human, showing empathy and reassurance as well as leadership.
Your executives and other employees must be kept informed of the developing situation so ensure you have an intranet or internal communications system that allows for swift and regular updates.
Employees are used to hearing how valued they are during normal times — and in crisis, you have to prove it by supporting them and making them aware of developments.
Likewise with stakeholders, whether that is clients, suppliers or others, remember that regular and jargon-free updates are vital, using multiple communications channels appropriate to each audience.
In sport for instance, your internal staff, supporters, athletes, sponsors and suppliers will all have different priorities and want to hear different things, even though there will be some commonalities.
Remember, while it is important to stick to the facts in all communications, focusing on what you know and your business rather than speculating or commenting on, for instance, health matters.
4. Take Action
Whether it is the coronavirus or another crisis, how you deal with it is always more impactful on your long-term reputation than the crisis itself.
You will have a crisis management team in place already (if not, why not?!) who will be aware of their roles in managing internal or external communications and liaising with the authorities and stakeholders.
You may need to appoint a second tier of the team with many likely to be absent but the key is not to panic.
Your strategy should be in place to allow you to continue operating to some degree without compromising every aspect of your operations or services.
5. Review and Repeat
When a crisis strikes, it’s easy to forget the mission and values upon which your organisation is rooted.
It is in times like this that your values are most important, and it is vital to ensure that you balance the bottom line with maintaining the ethos that sets you apart.
Inevitably, the situation will change and you need to evolve as things get better or worse.
Reacting swiftly to the situation, and communicating any changes to the way you operate, will ensure you are well positioned to address any business challenges that subsequently arise.
It will also enhance the trust that your stakeholders have in you when they see that you are adapting rather than sticking to a rigid, immovable plan.
If you work in sport and have not reviewed your crisis plans recently or need some support with crisis communications as the coronavirus crisis affects operations, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.
Originally published at https://calacus.com on March 16, 2020.