Can you really prepare in advance for a crisis? YES! If not already created, a crisis communications plan should be at the top of every business executive’s list. And, if you already have a crisis communications plan, make sure it is updated regularly.
A crisis situation can be defined as any situation or event that has wide spread interest among the local, state and/or national community. It garners the full attention of the business operation for its duration and has the potential to cause disruptions or long term impacts. Examples of a crisis situation can include natural disasters, explosions, active shooter situations, a hostage situation or investigations associated with illegal activity.
Since communication is often a key component in handling a crisis situation, how a business responds to the event can have a lasting impact on its relationship with key constituencies, the community and the media. A crisis communications plan provides important policies and procedures for the coordination of communication efforts in collecting and conveying appropriate information to the public, media and key audiences.
Each crisis will require a unique public information response. The extent of the response will depend on the crisis. However, there are several components that can make up a general crisis communications plan to help businesses be prepared. A few of these components include identifying key members of the crisis communications team; contact information for those internal that need to be kept in the loop, as well as contact information for external groups that make up the business’ key stakeholders; an extensive media contact list; tools to provide quick updates via email, a hotline or on the web; and message templates that are easily adaptable and based on specific examples of crisis situations that can be delivered verbally, emailed, uploaded to the web or sent via social media . Note, these messages should be based on what people need to know prior to, during and following the various crisis situations.
As you’ve undoubtedly seen over and over again … businesses either rise to the top or absolutely flop during a crisis situation. Because all eyes are on how the businesses will respond during this type of situation, isn’t it important to be as prepared as possible to tackle the realities of a crisis? Create or update your crisis communications plan today!