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More often than not, we prepare for ‘crisis management’ involving external causes – service breakdown, a fire took place, etc. Why? Because, we don’t often see our own employees causing anything close to a crisis, especially to their very own employers. But, as a recent case of a former Yelp employee, Talia – who wrote an open letter to her CEO (Jeremy Stoppelman) – would suggest, we have to consider that there are in fact internal factors, such as company employees, that can potentially put the company in a predicament. If you haven’t read her open letter, you can check it out here.

In this day and age, information spreads rapidly; out now and spread like wildfire within hours if not minutes. A day after publishing her open letter, one of the most popular opinion pieces in response to it – which was thereafter picked up by several prominent media houses – was published. In fact, Talia got fired in less than two hours of publishing her open letter (source).

When Stoppelman responded to her open letter via his Twitter account, he drew mostly criticisms for not truly addressing the issue, and for being unconvincing. On his third out of five tweets, he wrote that he has “not been personally involved in Talia being let go and it was not because she posted a Medium letter directed at” him. However, just a day before, Talia’s HR representative and manager had told her “that the letter violated Yelp’s “Terms of Conduct” and that’s why they had to let me go” (source). So, is it because of the Medium letter or not?

Inconsistency is a bane to crisis management.

So let’s be honest – when crisis hits you, especially in this day and age, you won’t see it from a kilometre away; it’s going to be in your face. And if I may be blatant, the juicier your crisis, the more (and prompt) unwanted-attention you’d receive.

We cannot stress enough how imperative it is to have an external and internal crisis management plan in hand. Sure, you might argue that you have an almost-solid company. But, are you really going to dismiss Stoppelman’s lesson, and risk going through the ordeal yourself? Having a crisis management plan isn’t so much about being pessimistic, but to be prepared to tackle almost-anything that compromises the company and contributes to its disadvantage, in a strategic manner (read: proper channels).

While it is important to have a crisis management plan, key personalities are essential to the execution of it. As with any companies, they (from Country Managers, to CEOs, and COOs) are bound to come and go. When new key personalities step into their position, it is necessary for them to learn the existence of the plan, and understand it inside and out. If they have more to add to the plan, even better!

At the end of the day, one of the key methods to clearing up controversies is addressing both internal and external factors.

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