What’s Your Crisis Communication Plan? Do You Need One?
If you think you don’t have time to create a crisis communication plan then this post is for you – keep reading!
People in general don’t like the concept of insurance. After all, who wants to pay now for something they may or may not need?
Chances are pretty good however, that most of us have been on the giving or receiving end of a fender-bender. So thankfully, we’ve benefited from the law that requires everyone must have auto insurance. Even a minor collision can mean thousands of dollars in damage.
When it comes to crisis communications, the only law that exists is best practices.
Companies procrastinate in preparing for a crisis, as it means time and/or money – and most businesses don’t have an abundance of either. Again, who wants to pay for something they may or may not need? But the investment in preparing for a crisis is a fraction of the value it provides if you do, in fact, find yourself in the midst of a crisis.
Indeed, having a crisis communication plan can be the difference between a business that survives and one that does not.
It is proven again and again through PR case studies that if a company in crisis proactively releases information, even damaging information, it shortens the news cycle of the story and lessens the damage to the brand’s reputation.
We’ll be able to test this adage again as we watch the Brian Williams story over the next several months. (Look for an analysis of this story as it unfolds in our blog.)
There are many types of crises, but if your future crisis is something that emerged due to human error and a bad decision, remember the old PR adage: “Mess up, ‘fess up and clean up.” If you (or your team, or your product) created the crisis, own up to it and show you are working to fix the problem and provide solutions.
If something else caused the crisis, the main thing to remember is that you need to communicate. Often. Public relations is not about spinning stories or throwing out smokescreens. Good public relations is about open communication – building relations!
At the minimum, here are three quick and easy things you can do TODAY to prepare you for an unanticipated crisis:
1. Identify your crisis communications team.
Determine who should be notified first in the event of any type of crisis (CEO, GM, etc.).
Determine other roles needed and assign roles. These roles may include: Internal Communications (employees, employees’ families); External Communications (stakeholders, media); Logistics; and Administrative Support.
2. Identify your stakeholder groups. (This is something you should already know, but that’s for a later blog post.)
Corporate office (if based out of the area)
3. Identify notifications systems.
For each group above, determine how you will be able to quickly communicate information about a crisis. This could include some of all of the following: phone, text messages, email, website, social media, videos, press releases/conferences, etc.
There you go. Maybe tomorrow you can start working on a more comprehensive crisis communication plan.
Here is a fun infographicon all the steps you should take, should you find yourself in the midst of a crisis of course. This infographic comes from Meltwater, an online media relations software company that helps companies better engage with their customers and the media.