When your senior team has just minutes or hours to react, how do you respond? Without pre-planning, it’s impossible to act quickly. Indecision, conflicting opinions or a poorly chosen spokesperson can unravel even the best intentions. Protecting your organization begins long before a crisis hits. Though it is rarely possible to address all aspects of a crisis situation instantaneously, the increase in web-based reporting and social media makes a quick response critical.
Following this approach will help you get ready:
Conduct regular risk assessments in order to identify potential crisis situations or areas of high risk early. Know the plan for returning to normal business, resolving the issue and ensuring your stakeholders that you have command of the situation.
Establish a crisis management team before an event occurs. Maintain the team at all times, not just during sensitive events. Share positive news. Know your audiences ahead of time and regularly share company news proactively. This helps establish a flow of information, and more importantly, a relationship that may prove beneficial when you need support.
Know your communications tools. When a crisis occurs, do you know how to reach employees or customers? Are your social media platforms a place that your stakeholders are used to going for important information? Focus on building up your communications outlets before a crisis so they are ready to deploy when needed. (If snail mail is your only tool, it’s time for an upgrade.)
Create a clear line of communication between the communications team and legal counsel. A mutual understanding of priorities and concerns makes crisis communications reponse more effective. Engage the leadership team in developing an overall crisis response strategy, in advance of any specific crisis. This makes it easier to get buy-in during an actual event.
By Diana Pisciotta and Jill Reilly