Crisis Communication 101

Your ability to turn a PR crisis into an opportunity for your company is determined well before the crisis happens. Get prepared!

Your ability to turn a PR crisis into an opportunity for your company is determined well before the crisis happens. Get prepared!

Are you ready for a crisis situation at your company? Thankfully, they don’t happen everyday, but when something disastrous does occur at your organization, your ability to respond quickly and appropriately can make the difference in the court of public opinion. How do you prepare?

Of course, every organization should have a crisis communication plan. If your company does not have a crisis communication plan, there’s free templates available online, like this one from FEMA.

But you can’t stop there. Many PR practitioners develop the plan, and then it gathers dust and cobwebs. If, when you need it most, all of the information is outdated, it will not be helpful to you. And, even more so, if personnel throughout the organization are not aware of said plan, they may not think of the media relations office as a group that needs ongoing information about a a situation. Out of sight, out of mind.

Here’s a few tips:

1. Set a recurring calendar reminder to revisit your plan, updating sections and definitely contact information for those designated as being part of the crisis team. The frequency of these reviews will vary based on the nature of your business, but at least every other month, give the thing a second look.

2. If an update is necessary, make sure everyone on the first response team receives the updated plan. Keep everyone armed with the most up-to-date information so they are in the best position to respond to a crisis.

3. Make sure you have access to your plan from home as well as work, and keep your cell contacts updated with all of the resource people you will rely on should an emergency occur. Yes, it’s common sense.

4. Beyond the crisis communication plan, one of the best ways to prepare for a crisis (and incidentally, to be even more awesome at your job) is to KNOW your business. Make time to get out of your cube, get to know the supply chains, the customer service procedures, the operations processes for your company. That knowledge makes you that much quicker on the draw once a crisis occurs, for obvious reasons. It also makes you more confident in your role.

Crises can be turned into PR opportunities to inform the public about your business, your processes, etc. Give yourself the best chance to succeed when a crisis hits by being prepared.

Here’s a few more resources for crisis communication planning that I’ve found useful:

The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications

A Seven-Step Guideline for Crisis Communication (requires free sign-up)

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