Crisis Communications: Planning for The Unexpected
It Can and Will Happen to You
No organization is immune from a media crisis. It can take shape in many forms, and the best way to weather the storm is to put a plan in place even before it occurs.
There are several simple proactive steps you can take to help ensure you are best prepared for a crisis when it arises:
Assembling The C-Team
Carefully identify and select in advance the members of your crisis management team. These individuals should be chosen for their ability to stay calm and focused during even the most stressful situations. Once the team is assembled, bring everyone together to review, discuss, refine and practice designated roles and responsibilities for each scenario you outline below.
If a crisis does hit, immediately pull together your crisis management team to quickly review and revise your advance game plan, tailoring it to the actual situation. Then, calmly begin implementing your plan as previously agreed.
As a team, brainstorm the most likely scenarios your organization could experience that would fall into the “crisis” category. Draw up your quick response plan with a checklist on paper for each individual situation - outlining what actions will be taken by whom, and ideally in what sequence.
Think through and try to anticipate every eventuality. Determine in advance how you will inform your internal and external audiences, and who will be designated to address each group.
Ready, Aim, Fire!
Use all of the tools in your earned media toolbox to get your side of the story out to each of your targeted audiences.
If someone or something has been harmed, quickly demonstrate your genuine sympathy and support to the victims, their families and friends.
In all cases, do your best to clearly and calmly explain the situation and state your concerns surrounding the occurrence. Outline the steps you have taken, are taking and plan to take in order to address or rectify the situation. If possible, promise a full inquiry and report.
Remember: This, Too, Shall Pass
Above all, remain calm, be honest, and stay focused. It is important to remember that the crisis will eventually pass.
In the meantime, the best thing you can do to help move it along is to plan your work ahead of time, and then quickly and steadily work your plan whenever the time comes.