When asked, most companies who do not have a complete and vetted crisis management communications plan reply they will be able to handle or respond to a crisis when it occurs.
Unfortunately, when an event does occur in a company without a set plan and educated key internal groups, it may result in a negative experience. Adverse results may include:
- diluted or unfocused messaging
- inability to respond/react in a timely manner
- lack of shared and relevant information and inability to deliver materials to internal and external audiences
- negative media coverage
- confusion by internal and external audiences and
- other crisis pressures triggered by consumer concerns, activist groups, and discussion in social media.
Develop your Crisis Communications Plan
The first step to a solid crisis communications plan is to assemble a crisis response and communications team. The team should conduct an audit to assess the company’s or association’s situations, including:
- documenting procedures and policies
- collecting information on the perception of the company (which may help identify resources for information)
- identifying locations and resources and
- identifying crisis scenario modules.
The crisis scenario module should include a myriad of potential situations that ultimately compose the bulk of your plan. Crisis scenarios may include a natural disaster event, a product safety issue, or even an activist protest. Each module is structured to define key messages, statements, resource materials, an information chain, and a spokesperson, but the specific situation will determine which and how each of those elements are used and when.
Going through a crisis is never a pleasant experience, but planning and developing a solid communications plan may produce beneficial results and potentially lessen an impact by mitigating on-going risk. Developing an effective crisis communication response plan is an important first step.