When it comes to crisis management, most baking and snack companies don’t have a crystal ball in the board room. Then again, a white board can be the next best thing.

It all starts when you bring together your key stakeholders to brainstorm every possible worst-case scenario. Determine alert levels for your plant, from early to severe. Each of these levels requires specific instructions and responsibilities for all managers and employees, noted Joanie Spencer, recently announced editor/managing editor of Baking & Snack magazine.

In an editorial in the April issue, she noted once you can identify what “crisis” means for your company, decide now how far to drill down. It’s easy to assume — or even hope — that your insurance policy is ready and waiting for you when you need it. But, she stressed, hope isn’t a plan, and setting a plan is not the last step. Remember to take it out and dust it off regularly, stressed Ms. Spencer, who monitored a panel on crisis management for the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech conference recently. She had a couple of other great observations: While technology can be on your side in a crisis, don’t forget that social media can easily create one, too. A crisis plan should include a communication with social media as a tool and not an avenue for further destruction.

Keep in mind that someone who knows how to use Twitter might not be an expert in crisis communication. Crisis planning might feel like you’re inviting trouble, but in the end, it takes planning on an ongoing basis. As I like to say, no surprises.