Why You Need A Crisis Communication Plan - In a Heartbeat

Why You Need A Crisis Communication Plan

A Crisis Communication Plan is a document that outlines how a company will communicate with the public during a crisis. It is important for team members to be familiar with it, so they know what to do in the event of a crisis. 

With the rise of social media, news travels fast – and that means that your company’s reputation can be on the line in the blink of an eye. A crisis communication plan will help you to control the narrative and protect your brand in the event of a crisis. Here’s how to make one:

Identify your stakeholders

First, identify who your stakeholders are – that is, the people who could be affected by the crisis. This could include customers, employees, shareholders, and anyone else with a vested interest in your company. 

Next, decide who will be responsible for communicating with each stakeholder group. It’s important to have multiple people involved in this process so that no one person is overwhelmed or becomes the sole point of contact in case of an emergency. You also need to establish clear channels of communication and decide how the information will be disseminated during a crisis.

Be proactive
Developing a plan before disaster strikes is always better than trying to create one on the fly. Creating a crisis team who are responsible for managing all aspects of communication, from media relations to employee communications, can help prevent confusion, panic, and misinformation. This will also help to show what is under your control and what is not.
Get to know your crisis communications team
The team should be prepared and be readily available to give support and updates on whatever may come their way. They should be composed of people with different skills and knowledge so that they can effectively handle any situation that arises. It’s also important to have a backup plan in place in case the primary members of the team are unavailable.
The team should include a designated spokesperson, a crisis communications coordinator, a social media manager, and a PR specialist. They will all be responsible for organizing and coordinating all crisis communication activities. After the crisis, this team will be prepared to communicate with the media and manage social media accounts.

Identify your audiences
Before you can develop a crisis communication plan and organize a crisis team, you need to identify your audiences. Who do you need to communicate with and what information is important to them? This will vary depending on the crisis, but some examples of audiences include employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, and the general public. Once you’ve identified your audiences, you can start thinking about what messages you can send.

Create a distribution plan
Think about how you’re going to distribute the messages. This will depend on the situation and your audience, but some common channels include social media, email, website updates, and press releases.

Develop key messages
Your crisis communication plan should include a list of pre-approved messages that can be used in different crisis scenarios. These messages should be clear, concise, accurate, and easy to understand and aligned with your company’s values and objectives.

Three things to remember in the event of a crisis:

  1. Create a statement of intent and a fact sheet.
    Prepare a few phrases to communicate to workers, customers, and any other identifiable stakeholders as soon as a crisis occurs, even before you have all the information. Recognize that something has occurred, such as a case of active violence, and that you are taking the required actions to gather information and protect your team.
  2. Email and social media are crucial.
    During a crisis, proactive communication is critical. Through social media and email marketing, you can maintain the highest level of openness with your audience, customers, and the general public. Your communications team should create shareable documents that include factual and pertinent information about the issue.
  3. And most importantly, show compassion.
    Yes, you must act quickly. However, you must do so with empathy. Demonstrate sympathy for those impacted. Compassion, empathy, heart, and connection are the characteristics that will carry your team through any crisis.

The purpose of a crisis communications plan is to go from reacting to managing a crisis. The crisis communications team must work with management to establish a plan that addresses the concerns of each audience while protecting the organization’s reputation.

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