‘Crisis Communication Plan’ is a bit of a misnomer – a crisis, by definition, is unexpected. But much like you have an insurance plan to support an unexpected need for your health, your home or your car, you need to have a crisis communication plan to support your business or organization. This is true in any and every industry – from education to business to non-profits. So you know you need one – but how do you develop one?
1. Choose a partner you trust
This is the most vital piece of any crisis communication plan. When you are in the middle of a crisis, it’s all hands on deck – and you need your hands free to be able to lead your team. Which means you need a communication partner that is already familiar with your market, the media and ideally, your business.
Andrew Ingall, Superintendent of Grand Haven Area Public Schools, says he relies on King Media to take the lead on crisis communication so he can focus on leading the district. This approach earned King Media earned two international PR News Awards for our crisis communication work with GHAPS.
Not only did we work with the district to create a plan for crisis situation, but we are also the district’s partner in all things communication, marketing and advertising – which means we know the client, the audience and the community well. You may never count a crisis as a success, but you can be successful in how you communicate – and that foundation is laid with a partner you can trust.
2. Lay all the scenarios on the table
Depending on your business or organization, what constitutes a ‘crisis’ and who needs to be involved can be incredibly varied. However, there are some easily identifiable situations you might encounter based on your industry. Think about the most likely scenarios for your business. Then work with your partner to map a response plan, including who needs to be contacted and when, what kinds of statements need to be prepared and how often you’ll need to communicate with both your internal and external audiences.
3. Revisit and update your plan regularly
We all hope that your crisis communication plan sits on a shelf and collects dust – but even if you don’t use it regularly, you still need to revisit your procedures and protocols regularly. This does two things: first of all, it keeps your entire team sharp on what needs to happen and when. In a crisis, it’s easy to let emotion and adrenaline guide your choices – having a plan in place that you drill regularly takes the emotion out of the process and helps create that ‘muscle memory’ that is essential in a crisis.
Secondly, it allows you to make any updates or changes based on what might be going on in your business. Maybe you have some new people on your executive team, or a new audience you need to consider. Revisiting your plan regularly will ensure these pieces don’t fall through the cracks when it matters most.
If you’re looking for a partner you can trust when it comes to crisis communication, give us a call. We’d be happy to walk you through our planning process and discuss creating something specifically tailored to your business and your needs.