Last week I spoke about the different levels in a crisis. Today, I want us to take a closer look at who is at the helm of a crisis. Do you have a Crisis Communication Committee in your organisation? And if you have one, is it active? How often does it meet? 

A Crisis Communication Committee is formed to immediately respond to a crisis and to execute relevant procedures to overcome emergency situations. The members of the Crisis Communication Committee typically have one very important responsibility, which is to control and if possible, prevent reputational damage for an organisation. 

It is the responsibility of the CEO to formally appoint the members of the Crisis Communication Committee in writing based on the following qualities:

  • Ability to perform under pressure
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Ability to communicate clearly and freely
  • Ability to work with others
  • Ability to manage emotions
  • Ability to think on your feet
  • To be agile in decision making
  • To know when to apply empathy 

Ever Bridge, a USA-based organisation founded in 2002 in the aftermath of the 9/11 with the mission of helping to keep people safe amid critical situations, added that the following attributes are also paramount for the team working on a crisis:

Situational awareness – this speaks to the leadership team’s ability to consider the broader context surrounding a critical event, while it is unfolding, assess the relevance and completeness of available information, anticipate the likely consequences, and make appropriate decisions.

Decisiveness – is another essential skill. Leaders need to be able to move their organisations forward in the face of confusing, conflicting, and changing information.

Creativity and adaptability – emergency response is never static. In crisis situations, leaders cannot be married to a single strategy. They need to continue to take in new information, listen carefully, and consult with frontline staff who understand what’s happening. And, as the conditions warrant, they must be willing and able to pivot. 

The Crisis Communication Committee should consist of the CEO and someone from Operations, HR, Legal Unit, Comms department, Social Media/Digital expert and subject-specific expert. It is important to note that the Committee will not always have the same people. It will also depend on the type of crisis. Sometimes the board chairperson might be part of the team. 

The committee shall be responsible for conducting simulation exercises, encouraging line management to conduct training for their staff on risk/safety and other crisis matters,training management on communication skills and media etiquette during a crisis,analysing risks and identifying possible disasters or scenarios that could negatively affect the reputation, as well as prioritising risks in terms of seriousness and probability of occurrence and identifying the effects of the crisis on the operations. 

Lastly, it is important for the crisis committee team to understand that organisations with more favourable reputations prior to a crisis will suffer less damage to their reputation and will recover more quickly than organisations that have not built a strong reputation. Additionally, it’s imperative that the team does not shift blame, deny, and justify their position to reduce their responsibility in a crisis. That type of behaviour makes stakeholders less receptive to their message. It also makes them react negatively to the organisation’s crisis management efforts. 

Morna Ikosa is a Senior Corporate Communications and Brand Reputation Strategist, CPRP, MA, AKA Fixer. To connect, send her a shout-out at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or find her on LinkedIn.

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