No matter what business you are in, it is important to be prepared for a crisis. We like to think that nothing bad will happen but it is better to be prepared for all the what ifs. Identify all the potential crises and create individual plans to deal with each. Think about what keeps your CEO up at night and be prepared to handle these types of situations.
- Anticipate crises, you may find situations that are preventable by altering your businesses current procedures. These small changes may save time when a crisis surfaces.
- Look at past crises and brainstorm what went wrong and went well. Use this to begin creating plans for the future.
- Have pre-prepared statements and spokespeople.
- Train your spokesperson regularly so they are calm in the face of an actual crisis. Practice answering tough questions. Avoid “no comment”; minimal information is still some information and will be appreciated by all parties.
- Have all the passwords to your social media accounts available for quick response rates and a list of who is allowed to access them.
- Create a list of everyone who needs to be contacted immediately (CEO, PR, and Legal teams) and how they are going to be contacted.
- Establish a plan for communicating with internal and external stakeholders during a crisis.
- Have a list of all News outlets and Government officials that could need to be contacted.
- Revise and update plans regularly.
www.ready.gov is a great resource for all types of disasters. The site was designed to help people prepare and respond to emergencies. This site also has many great tips for preparing and handling a communications crisis. They have lots of information on crisis communication planning and tons of links to help with research. Here is a great place to start when beginning or revamping your crisis communications plan.
Having a crisis communications plan can save businesses from scrambling when a crisis actually occurs. The first step is to do research and the second is to implement or revise your current plan. After doing so you will feel much more confident in your company’s abilities and readiness to respond a crisis. We may not be able to anticipate everything but having many different types of plans will make dealing with problems much simpler.
Erin Stehlik is a senior, majoring in PR with a minor in Spanish. In addition to her role as an account associate at GrandPR, Erin is the Director of Social Media for PRSSA, a communications and development intern at Kids' Food Basket, and a behavioral technician at the Autism Centers of Michigan. Erin loves traveling and spending time with her friends and family. She grew up in St. Johns, MI, a farm town just north of Lansing. She loves swimming and spent her entire childhood either by a lake or a pool. Erin is very passionate about the Non-Profit world. She hopes to pursue a job working with one after graduation in April.