5 Steps to Develop a Crisis Communication Plan

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When a crisis situation develops, time is of the essence. There’s a saying: “If you’re not quick, you’re not relevant.” That’s why companies need to have a crisis communication plan in place before a potentially hazardous situation arises. While there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter” crisis plan, the following information will help your company begin assembling an effective plan.

Step 1: Establish the Crisis Team.

Consider all the aspects of your company—management, operations, internal and external communication, customer service, and legal. During the crisis, this team bears the responsibility for making decisions and spearheading communication.

Step 2: Identify and Prepare the Spokespeople.

Identify the person who will be the official “voice” of the company should a crisis develop and make sure that person is trained accordingly.

Step 3: Develop processes and protocols.

Having a set of approved procedures in place ahead of time is key to responding in a timely manner and protecting the company’s brand.

Step 4: Prepare for Social Media’s Impact on Crisis Communication

Online monitoring during a crisis is critical. Be prepared to jump into the conversation to correct facts, answer questions, and share the brand’s side of the story and steps taken to fix the situation.

Along those same lines, “new” crisis communication means you shouldn’t solely rely on the news media to disseminate your message. Leverage social media with real-time updates via Twitter and Facebook in a crisis.

Step 5: Brainstorm Possible Scenarios & Responses. Role Play. Repeat.

In any business, there are dozens of potential crisis situations that could ruin a brand … especially if poor communication makes the situation even worse. Work with your team to identify these potential situations and develop a “response template” in the crisis communication plan. The more preparation you can do ahead of time, the quicker you’ll be able to respond if a crisis does strike.

Source: Heather Whaling

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