IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PLAN, IT’S A CRISIS.
No organization wants to find themselves in a crisis. Unfortunately, these things happen. When they do, make sure your organization is prepared with an iron-clad crisis response strategy in order to respond quickly and effectively to mitigate the situation.
The problem is not that you have a problem, it’s the way you respond to a crisis. Organizations can have a strongly implemented safeguards that might limit the possibly of an incident, but if or when those safeguards fail, it’s how you respond that matters.
BE PREPARED. BE AGILE.
It doesn’t matter what your business is, there’s always something that can go wrong.
For sake of painting a clear picture, let’s say your run a golf course. Your crisis communication plan would prepare you to respond to any incident, no matter how unlikely. From an inebriated golfer leaving your establishment and being involved in an auto accident to lightening striking a player or worker, think about how much stress would be relieved if you were able to simply consult your manual and recall your training rather than scrambling and in turn increasing the risk of responding the wrong way?
BELOW ARE 5 REASONS WHY COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS NEED A CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PLAN IN PLACE:
Planning: Establish the crisis response team. Who is responsible for communicating with the media and the public during a crisis? From the top down, your organization should know the members of the crisis communications and crisis management teams. Designate a spokesperson who will answer all questions and make sure information comes from one, knowledgeable source.
During the Crisis: Develop documentation and training for your crisis management team to reference in the moment. Craft key messages based on what possible crisis might arise in your business. Your key messages should display concern about the crisis at hand and outline what the organization is doing to mitigate it.
Main point of contact: The delegated spokesperson should be the point of contact for all inquiries. They need to communicate effectively, know the communications thoroughly, and be trustworthy, calm, friendly, and caring. They control the information that is disseminated.
Responding and dealing with the media: Try to have an answer for all questions a reporter could ask. Everything should be “on the record.” Be sensitive of deadlines and be consistent with information being relayed to reporters. The spokesperson can also hold a scheduled press conference or supply reports to media, ensuring the message is consistent across all coverage. Make sure your team is also monitoring social media amidst a crisis and have a plan for responding. Who will be the point person online? Are your employees valuable allies on social media, or would it be best they weren’t involved in online commentary surrounding the issue?
Evaluation and Post-Crisis Evaluation: Review the crisis. Go through the 5 Ws. What could have been done to prevent the crisis and how will it be fixed moving forward? Evaluate the disseminated information and ensure it was solid. In the future, what would you do if you found yourself similar situation in the future, are there improvements that can be made?
With the new year approaching, it’s good to reflect on the previous year’s communications. Perhaps you didn’t run into any crisis-comms-worthy situations, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it for 2019. If you’re looking to get your team prepared, start with identifying potential hazards within your organization, research what companies have found themselves in similar situations and study how they managed it. Did they succeed or did they make the situation worse when communicating their messages? Take note!
We have you covered for all your crisis communications planning and training, so get in touch with us if you want to start 2019 knowing you are prepared for anything!