A Definitive Guide to Crisis Communications
What’s the first thing you do during an emergency? Tell someone. Businesses should do the same during a crisis. Regardless of the industry you’re in, when things go wrong, it’s crucial to keep customers, stakeholders and employees informed. Most important, help them feel secure about the situation and your business.
When it comes to crisis management, consider your audience. Ask: who does this effect and why? Who is the best person to communicate this message to the audiences? Consider these groups as potential audiences:
· Government officials
· Suppliers and manufacturers
· Those impacted by the incident
Here are some steps when preparing crisis communications:
1. Be prepared for crisis at any time. Determine potential crises and how to approach them. The worst thing you can do when things go wrong is not having a plan in place.
2. Role call. Figure out your crisis communications team. Think: senior executives, legal counsel, PR team, etc.
3. Prep your spokesperson. Those speaking on behalf of your company should be strong communicators for all channels and have a confident voice on the issue. Talking to the media is no easy task. Your spokesperson must be prepared to answer any and all questions and focus on the solution.
4. Prepare statements. Skip the dreaded “no comment” for a much a more educated, developed message. Here is an example: “We will report more information when it is available. We are doing all we can to remedy this situation and prevent this from happening again.”
5. Inform your audience. It’s crucial to keep the public informed, including employees and customers. They should hear about the crisis from you, not the media. Use efficient methods to disseminate information, such as an emergency meeting, email alert or your company’s website. Don’t forget to tell your audience where and how they can get more information.
6. Educate your company. Once all is said – and not quite done – educate your company on its crisis communication plan. This helps inform your employees of the situation and methods of remedying it, such as directing questions to a designated spokesperson.
7. Keep moving forward. The time following a crisis is a time of reflection and improvement. What did you learn? Is your crisis communications plan what it needs to be? How can we prevent this in the future?
The “it can’t happen to me” mentality stops when it happens to you. Preparedness is key, and your stakeholders, customers and employees will appreciate you for it.