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Prepare a Crisis Communication Plan

In every business a crisis may be viewed differently. For instance, what may be defined as a crisis and its impact for some businesses may be completely different for other businesses in a separate industry. However, what every business should have at their disposal is a clear and concise Crisis Communication Plan. When we get our day started, we are never really sure how it may unfold. We go to work or run our businesses just as the day before; setting goals and establishing a plan to move forward. However, there may come a time when having a Crisis Communication Plan can save your business’s reputation. 

A Crisis Communication Plan is a plan that clearly indicates how communication will be handled should a crisis occur. It is not something that you may think about on a day-to-day basis but it is something you should definitely take time to consider. Start today with the few fundamentals below and expand as needed to ensure your business is prepared for the unexpected. You can be better prepared, by jotting down a couple of items you may consider during a crisis and then discussing them with your team. 

To some the current state of events with COVID-19 may not be considered a severe crisis to their business. There are companies that have continued to conduct business as usual. However, there are others who have had to change their entire outlook and business structure as a result of what they consider a crisis for their business. There are others that may not see an increase in sales as a crisis, however, the tremendous demand for products from Amazon and general grocery stores left the businesses unable to supply as they were initially unprepared for the tremendous increase in demand. Other companies have completely changed their operational statuses affecting their income, employees, and customers. Who saw this coming in 2020? While no one knew the extreme impact a virus could have on business around the world, having a communication plan in place can help with quickly responding to stakeholder concerns, decreasing panic, and managing your brands reputation. 

Simply start by outlining your plan with these fundamental considerations in mind.

Identify Crisis Scenarios. What type of events could lead you to activate your communications plan?

  • Develop a list of every crisis you think could impact your business; consider what could go wrong.
  • Group these ideas by levels of impact the crisis would have on the business, employees, staff, and stakeholders. (i.e. Red – Emergency, Yellow – Caution)

Establish your Crisis Team. Who is on your crisis communication team and how would they be notified if a crisis occurs?

  • Make a list of their contact information (email and phone numbers).
  • Consider how soon they should be notified and what next steps may be.
  • Determine the company spokesperson.
  • Determine who will respond to phone calls regarding the matter and how communication will be handled with staff.

Determine your level of response.

  • Refer to your crisis list and how they were grouped. A smaller crisis may only require you to contact those involved to rectify the situation before it escalates, while a larger crisis may entail contacting local news sources, a legal advisor and others.

Prepare key messages. Pre-established messaging will allow you to act quickly should something happen. Developing messages in advance will give you an opportunity to clearly think through each situation without the stresses or pressure presented during a crisis.

  • Release a timely statement. No statement or a late one could have a huge impact on how stakeholders and others view your company. A timely response will stop others from writing your narrative for you.
  • Consider your social media and if scheduled posts should be put on hold or exchanged with new messaging.
  • Provide frequent updates.

Develop an Emergency Contact list. Who should be contacted immediately if a crisis occurs? Consider the fastest way to contact them such as establishing a phone tree. It will help lead important decisions quickly in order to generate a timely response. Individuals to consider:

  • Legal advisor
  • Financials advisor
  • Media associates and personnel
  • Key employees

Follow-up and clean up. List questions that will help you assess the crisis and your response once things have calmed down a bit. This will also prepare you for future incidents and allow you to tweak your plan where needed to become more efficient and effective.

While there is so much more to consider, starting with these key areas will get you on the right track to dealing with any unexpected event and could possibly save your companies future. Do you need help with preparing your Crisis Communication plan? Contact us today – we’re here for you.

Stay Connected to the Community During the COVID19 Crisis

Have you checked your inbox lately?

In the past week, inboxes have been inundated with multiple emails regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how companies and organizations are assuring their customers and constituents that they are here and available to them.  COVID-19 has turned the lives of many upside down. We have begun practicing social distancing, schools have closed or moved to relying heavily on online learning, more people are working from remote locations and in some areas entertainment facilities, restaurants, gyms and more have shut down. However, this separation doesn’t mean you have to be disconnected from your constituents and audience. There are many options to engage with your community virtually. Although we may not see each other, our communication doesn’t need to stop. Instead we may have to think of more innovative ways to connect.

Email is only one way to communicate with customers or your teams, but consider some of these other options to engage with your community virtually and ways to promote general communication among your colleagues, customers, families and friends while separated. 

  • Hold a Tele-Town Hall: The NAACP hosted an Emergency Tele-Town Hall a few weeks ago to address COVID-19 and its potential impact on communities of color. They offered a call-in number as well as a registration form for members of the media. Invited panelist, including the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, were on board to share updates and answer questions. After the town hall session – NAACP provided an audio recording of the session for individuals that couldn’t attend or those that wanted to review the discussion again.
  • Conduct Facebook Live: Consider a live broadcast using Facebook Live to keep your members, partners and constituents informed about the organization and your current initiatives. Last week Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook conducted a Facebook Live with Dr. Anthony Fauci who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Zuckerberg and Dr. Fauci had a 30+ minute discussion around the wide-spread of COVID-19. A great way to reach audiences that may look to get their news from social media channels like Facebook rather than traditional news outlets.
  • Schedule Virtual Office hours sessions: Let your community know you are still listening and you hear them by conducting virtual office hour sessions. Invite your audience to submit questions in advance, let them know the date and time that you will address the questions virtually. You can conduct the sessions every Friday at noon to address questions your organization received throughout the week.

A few additional tips to consider when planning your virtual sessions:

  • Make time for dry-runs and testing: While some of your communication efforts may need to be rapid-response, please try and make time for dry-runs and/or testing of the platform. We may have used these platforms before, but have we expected the amount of participants that may dial in or join? Do we have them all muted-upon-entry? Is the chat mechanism set up properly to accept questions? Last but not least, is your camera set up properly so that folks can see you and your team. That is one important aspect of connection, being able to see the person that is delivering the message.
  • Stay positive through all of this: You may want to even consider a virtual lunch bunch or virtual happy hour with your team to keep everyone connected, and positive. Although these are crazy times it doesn’t mean we have to lose the good in what we do. It has just forced us all to re-evaluate how we are offering support and services. If you’re feeling really fun and funky – throw a dance party like D-Nice’s “Club Quarantine” – a fun way to bring everyone together (virtually) during a crisis!

Bekoz Marketing is still open and available to you. We practice what we preach and we use Zoom and Google Hangouts to connect with you. Undoubtedly your organization and business is working through how to properly communicate with your constituents and focusing on how to reassure them during this time. Let’s work together on this!