The 6 R’s of Law Firm Crisis Management (Or How To Thwart the Grinch From Ruining Your Party)

by JD Supra Perspectives
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[The seventh in a series of 12 year-end posts published by LMA's Social & Digital Media SIG:]

From the series editors: Overseeing digital and social media puts us on the front lines of securing our firm's digital domains in the event of a hack. If something goes wrong, this can immediately launch us into crisis mode, even if it occurs in the midst of a holiday celebration. Read on to see how one smart marketer avoided having the Grinch steal her New Year's celebration. Would your firm be as prepared if this happened to you?

If it wasn’t for an LMA colleague some 10 years ago, I might not have immediately learned that our site had been hacked at 6 p.m. EST on New Year’s Eve. Yes. I was in San Diego, it was 9 p.m., and I was with my family heading out to that big NYE party. I received a text from an LMA colleague who happened to be visiting our site to read an article, and she was greeted with the skull and crossbones (somewhat like encountering the White Walkers from Game of Thrones). Fortunately for my sanity, we had a crisis management plan in place, not to mention available staff to address the matter swiftly. We were able to put up a temporary landing page, remove the affected code, and post a message that our site was down temporarily. By mid-day of New Year’s Day, the site was restored.

Here is a checklist of items that should be included in your crisis management plan (CMP) in order to thwart the Grinch from ruining your party.

The 6 R’s of Crisis Management

 RECOGNIZE

  • Recognize and identify the issue
  • Mobilize your Crisis Response Team (CRT) – be sure to have cell and home phones, personal and business email addresses, and social media profile URLs in your plan

RESTRICT

  • Conduct CRT call or meeting
  • Contain: draft and post a holding statement (if necessary)
  • Communicate to critical audiences

REMOVE

  • Provide all necessary tools for experts to eradicate issue
  • Communicate issue
  • Monitor and evaluate, keep an eye on social media sites

RECOVER

  • Implement recovery plan
  • Draft resolution statement

RESOLVE

  • Alert audiences that issue has been addressed including through social media
  • Provide necessary information to important audiences (what happened, how it may have happened, what was done to rectify it, and what is being done moving forward)
  • Follow up with affected parties directly

REFINE

  • Conduct post-mortem review
  • Evaluate effectiveness of CRT
  • Evaluate effective of response tactics
  • Update scenarios and response tactics in CMP
  • Update contact lists (CRT, media, etc.)
  • Re-train CRT

 We learn all too often that law firms (of all sizes) don’t have crisis management plans in place to handle the myriad of scenarios a business can encounter on any given day. And as Murphy’s Law would have it, the Grinch often crops up during the holidays and issues spread rapidly online. As marketers, it is our job to help safeguard our law firms from crises at any time of the year. Happy planning.

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[Gina F. Rubel, Esq. is the CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc., one of the nation’s leading legal marketing, public relations, crisis communications and social media agencies. A strategic marketing expert, attorney and author, Ms. Rubel teaches audiences nationwide how to implement ethical, integrated and measurable communication strategies that help their organizations to meet their business objectives.]

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