February 12th, 2020

WASHINGTON — One of the most important things you can do when you learn about a crisis that affects your company or organization is to move quickly to address it. Depending on the nature of the crisis, moving quickly can:

1. Show you know about problem
2. Demonstrate you are trying to take as much control of the situation as possible
3. Help protect the best interests of stakeholders and target audiences
4. Mitigate the impact of the crisis on your organization
5. Provide confidence to others
6. Prevent the crisis from getting worse
7. Help put the crisis behind you as soon as possible

The recent outbreak and spread of the Wuhan coronavirus is a case in point. Many corporations, organizations, and governments around the world took action as news and information about the disease became known. For example, Apple temporarily closed their stores in China, telling CNN that “Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we’re closing all our corporate offices, stores and contact centers in mainland China through February 9. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we look forward to reopening our stores as soon as possible.”

According to other news reports, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency, governments were evacuating citizens from the center of city in China where the outbreak originated, airlines suspended flights to mainland China, and researchers announced they were working on a vaccine.

What will you do when — not if — a crisis strikes your organization? Having a crisis management plan in place — and testing it on a regular basis — will help ensure that you will know what to do, when to do it, why to do it, how to do it, where to do it, and who will do it.