Who needs a crisis communications plan? You.
Your organization will experience crisis. Accidents will happen. Mistakes will be made. A customer will have a bad experience. A member of your organization will say or do something dumb, or heaven forbid, criminal. And because everyone with a smartphone is a publisher, small fires are harder to contain than they used to be.
That’s why having a crisis communications plan is crucial for every organization. These plans spell out communication guidelines as an overlay to risk management. Chances are you know what to do when a water main ruptures in your building. But do you know how to communicate with your internal and external stakeholders in that event?
Communication leaders need to update crisis plans as staff changes, on the heels of a crisis and when new policies are put into place. This post – the second in a five-part series on crisis communications planning – will outline the essential elements of the plan itself.
A crisis communications plan checklist
Your crisis communications plan should include the following:
- Potential crisis scenarios – identify three to five possible crisis scenarios that could happen to your organization
- A crisis team and the responsibilities of each person
- Contact info for crisis team members and key stakeholders, such as partner organizations, key employees, law enforcement, media, venue provider, vendors, etc.
- Checklist of critical initial actions for each scenario
- A designated, trained spokesperson and backup person
- An internal communications strategy – remembering key groups and how to reach them
- Helpful documents/templates – easy reference fact sheets, media intake forms, incident timeline, starting draft statements to be updated/tailored in a situation
- Social media policy – who can post what, employee guidelines, etc.
Two of these elements could demand more time and attention than the others.
Designate a spokesperson (and a backup)
Your first need is a designated spokesperson and their backup. If there’s no one in your organization who feels comfortable in this role, you can hire or train someone. If you want to learn more about the importance of having a good spokesperson and how to become one, we can help. The general rule is that the best spokesperson is the highest-ranked person with expertise in the area affected by the crisis.
Social media strategy is your second need. During crises, social media can often amplify a situation – positively or negatively. Yet, it can also be your crucial tool to reach your target audiences. That’s why every crisis plan needs to outline how and when the business or organization will use social media in a crisis, and identify those with the ability to post updates and monitor activity.
The next post in this series will explore the effective use of social media in crisis communications. In the meantime, if you’d like to talk about your organization’s crisis communications plan, e-mail or call me – 317.749.0331.
This all sounds good, but how do you put it all together in real life, right? Here’s how Borshoff used social media to help a client earn rave reviews for their crisis response.
Read other posts in the series: