No organization ever expects to find itself amid a public relations crisis. However, the unfortunate reality is that unforeseen crises do happen, even to the best of us. And these crises can be most crippling when there’s no management plan in place.
Even worse than combatting a crisis is doing so while caught flat-footed on your response, which can result in hasty or poor decision-making and further damage to your company’s reputation. While no one wants to envision their company in crisis, the best way to deal with them is with effective planning and preparation on how to respond. Planning for the worst, while it may sound pessimistic, can help with mitigating unwanted surprises that arise.
Below are five essential components that every crisis management plan should have.
The Core Crisis Management Team
As you develop your crisis management plan, establish who will make up your company’s core crisis management team and outline their roles and responsibilities. Your team will likely comprise a mix of executive leadership, department heads, HR managers, PR representatives and a legal or financial adviser. Establish the sources available for legal counsel and expertise.
- Your Crisis Team’s Org Chart
Your crisis management team must be familiar with your ideal response strategy. It may be helpful to develop an organization chart for your crisis management team that delineates chain of command, who owns which tasks and who reports to whom. This can enable your team to coordinate effectively and ensure your crisis management plan is executed as efficiently as possible. In assigning roles, determine who will serve as spokesperson for media and external messaging, and who will communicate with clients and customers. If government officials or other regulatory agencies must also be contacted, determine who will own this correspondence.
- Internal Comms Strategies
Keeping employees apprised is key. With your internal communications strategy, outline the methods and processes in which your crisis management team will distribute critical information to employees across the company following a crisis. Plan how to communicate sensitive news to employees and determine the appropriate cadence for providing companywide updates. To help convey your desired messaging, develop a key messaging framework that specifies the critical details your company wishes to communicate as well as an FAQ for common questions you expect to field about the crisis.
- External Comms Strategies
In the event of a crisis, a sound external communications strategy can go a long way toward ensuring damage control. Develop a plan for engaging with the public, external stakeholders and media. Draft a statement to share with media and keep it available for all company spokespeople. If all relevant information isn’t immediately available, plan to add these details once they are. In your external comms strategy, provide detailed instructions for which media outlets your company plans to notify. Finally, establish your broader communication objectives and ensure your external communication strategies align with your desired outcomes.
- Your Response Action Plan
Create a detailed plan for how your organization will respond in the event of a crisis or various crisis situations. In some instances, this may require working backward from the aftereffects of the crisis and the impacts to your business. Identify the potential risks that your company faces and determine the necessary actions your company must take to remediate these threats. Determine contingencies that can help your organization respond to the crisis effectively. Remember to continually review, test and update your response plan to keep it relevant as your company evolves. This plan shouldn’t be crafted with a single crisis mind. Instead, it should use an “all-hazard approach” and serve as a template for any and all potential crises that may arise.
Remember: In times of trouble, don’t panic. Having a solid crisis management plan will help you stay the course, maintain poise and navigate any rough patches that life throws your way. You’ll have a step-by-step guide outlining what actions you’ll need to take to keep any crisis from spiraling out of control and leading to subsequent problems. Even in the event of unforeseen circumstances, you’ll remain in control.
For more on this topic, check out our past CPR blog posts on crisis management.
The post In Case of Emergency: 5 Things Every Crisis Management Plan Should Have first appeared on Communiqué PR.