CRISIS MANAGEMENT

A crisis is a defining moment for an organization. Core management skills and organizational values are put to the test, business practices are exposed, and decisions are examined with 20-20 hindsight. To manage a crisis effectively, there must be an in-depth understanding of risks, thorough crisis management planning, regular exercising, and a strategy for maintaining these capabilities over time.


Managing a crisis—whether industrial accident, natural disaster, executive misconduct, high profile litigation, civil or labor unrest, or acts of violence—and its consequences require a clear understanding that it’s no longer business as usual. The standard approaches or structures relied on to manage day-to-day and make decisions no longer work.

In the midst of a crisis, business leaders cannot wait for all the answers to take decisive action or let other parties dictate direction. Organizations must be ready to act swiftly, decisively, and responsibly to protect their reputations, employees, shareholders, and bottom line.

Marsh provides experienced crisis management consultants and insurance experts who can support clients with crisis preparedness and real time response across a range of industries and issues worldwide.

Crisis Management Preparedness

The best approach to protecting a company’s future is to implement an effective crisis management program before a crisis ever occurs.

A crisis management program helps an organization prepare for, manage, and recover from issues and incidents that threaten its people, brand, valuation, customers, finances, or operations. It is a systematic approach designed to help manage crises that arise from more traditional risks like regulatory inquiries, natural disasters, and litigation to other threats such as product recall and NGO activism.

The elements of a multi-year crisis management program that enhances an organization’s crisis preparedness capability and culture of prevention include:
  • Assessments of crisis preparedness by benchmarking existing plans and procedures against best practices and real world experience.
  • Development of a crisis management plan and process that helps enable management to respond to and effectively manage any issue or event.  By managing adverse situations effectively, it's possible to mitigate impacts and even prevent a situation from becoming a crisis in the first place.
  • Regular training and exercising crisis management teams to develop and maintain capabilities, as well as validate plans, processes, and alignment across all levels of the organization and aspects of response.

Real-Time Crisis Management

At no time is an organization or its reputation more at risk than during a crisis. Organizations—especially their senior leaders and boards—need to be able to respond to such events with the counsel and hands-on support of identified internal and external resources that can work with them 24/7 to help them manage and mitigate any potential damage, bolster stakeholder confidence, and protect the company’s brand.

During a crisis event, leadership should take steps such as:
  • Obtain actionable analysis of the potential threat to all stakeholder groups.
  • Develop and deploy a crisis management strategy.
  • Define the decision-making framework for the company’s crisis response.
  • Ensure existing incident response plans are properly aligned (i.e. business continuity, emergency response, human impact, and communications).
  • Identify emerging issues and risks that could escalate the crisis.
  • Augment existing communications team with senior crisis communications professionals working on-site.
  • Transition the company back to normal.

Financing Crisis Management

Insurance coverage may prove more useful than expected during a crisis. Outside counsel—including Marsh—may be approved by an organization’s insurer as a provider of real-time crisis management services. Thus a portion of outside counsel’s fee may be paid under an organization’s insurance coverage.

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Tracy Knippenburg Gillis
Global Practice Leader
New York, NY
212 345 3886
tracy.knippenburggillis@marsh.com

Susan Morton
Senior Consultant
Boston, MA
617 385 0543
susan.a.morton@marsh.com