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.