Crisis Communications Basic Survival Guide
A company should always be well prepared before a crisis to be able to navigate and mitigate the situation successfully. This preparation is done with a crisis communications plan that assesses all possible risks for the company, audits for any vulnerabilities, and then creates responses for multiple crisis situations with preventative measures.
A crisis communications plan should detail all of the company’s potential negative situations that can snowball into a crisis, the response options for those citations, and then organize the responses according to the levels of severity of each crisis. The plan should also have guidelines about what steps should be followed in each situation, as well as best and worst-case scenarios for different situations.
The company should also create a crisis communications team that includes people from the executives, relevant employees, and other departments, as well as spokespeople, and in some cases, external PR professionals as well. This team is going to work together to navigate the company through any crisis that occurs, and the team’s members are going to make sure the messaging for the public is consistent everywhere and that everyone in the company understands the crisis communications strategy in place.
Each of the members should have their own separate tasks they should be doing during a crisis situation. The top executives in the company should get involved in preparing the team and the company for a potential crisis as early as possible.
Methods of Communication
A business should have both internal, as well as external methods of communication, especially during a crisis. The former one will be used to share relevant real-time information to the rest of the company’s employees as well as everyone involved with the crisis, such as the executives, partners, and stakeholders. In contrast, the latter one should be used to provide the general public, news outlet and consumers with accurate and transparent messaging.
According to research, around two-thirds of companies these days are already using specialized tools and software to send notifications internally during a PR crisis – whether that means using company-tailored software or simply communicating with everyone involved via email or other secure messaging platforms. These tools are very helpful in the case that computer systems end up damaged, and they can also reduce the rate of human error when it comes to gathering or sharing accurate data during the crisis.
The company’s crisis communications plan should always include specific examples and scenarios of potential crises, as well as specific responses for those scenarios. Although predicting what’s going to happen down the line is impossible, companies can still be better prepared for potential negative situations with these types of detailed crisis communications plans.
Finally, the team should also develop guidelines for company responses to press inquiries as well as social media templates for posts that will be shared during that time, which will incorporate the company’s core messaging. This allows businesses to issue responses faster and take control of the conversation and the flow of information.