Current Best Practices in corporate crisis management include:
Don't underestimate the role of corporate culture: Establish a code of ethics and a clear articulation of expected business practices and hold all employees accountable to them.
Be prepared: Have a crisis management plan in place and review/update it semi-annually; have a company policy on representing the company or sharing its proprietary information on social media forums, particularly in times of crisis.
Know your crisis response team: Have a properly trained team of executives identified and their crisis roles defined before an event happens.
Move quickly to assess the severity of the crisis: Gather pertinent information, identify the "knowns vs. unknowns," and learn the command structure/process/timing of any involved outside authorities.
Do not delay your first communication: Releasing official information gives you greater control over the messaging and the opportunity to debunk any misinformation circulating – but stick to facts and don't speculate.
Control your messages: Even the most well-spoken executive should not attempt to "shoot from the hip" when engaging stakeholders in the event of a crisis; prepare key messages, brief the spokesperson(s), and keep them fully updated on all new information.
Be accessible, transparent, and honest: Get all the bad news out as quickly as possible and do not try to “spin” bad news.
Leverage technology to engage constituencies directly and have IT redundancies in place: Have a ready-to-populate crisis microsite built out in advance of a crisis so that it can go live quickly with important information when a crisis happens; have backup processes in place for communicating with employees and other stakeholders should a natural disaster or other accident take network servers down; leverage Twitter for engaging constituencies and monitoring prevailing sentiments on situation.
Be accountable: Accept responsibility and provide next steps on how the company will remedy the immediate situation and help affected parties. Do not shift blame or stonewall.
Know when to seek expert help: Effective crisis management can prevent a bad situation from getting worse – and a poorly orchestrated response will do the opposite. Bring in outside crisis counsel with the experience and expertise to lessen the short- and long-term reputational damage. Don't allow the legal team alone to control the corporate response – they're solely focused on protecting your legal flank, not your brand.
Identify third parties to advocate on your behalf: Seek and provide credible, trusted third parties willing to engage reporters or provide supportive messaging.