Every organization needs a crisis communication plan

The answer to the question of who needs a crisis communications plan is: every organization. In today’s world, no one can hide. Transparency is here to stay. Therefore, when the worst happens, every company can count on being immediately under a microscope. We should not pretend otherwise.

It is essential to have a well-planned, well-rehearsed and immediately applicable crisis plan at hand. It should be repeated well by everyone in your organization who has a role to play in it.

A crisis plan should not be “one and done” and then put on a shelf. It should be reviewed annually to determine what circumstances (internal or external) may have changed. As new key people are added to your organization, they should consider it as part of their orientation.

Any good crisis communications plan should be updated and rehearsed annually.

The key elements of a good crisis communication plan are:

  1. It should cover all areas of potential vulnerability, not just the most obvious or extreme circumstances.
  2. It should be fluid and flexible enough to work in a wide range of situations.
  3. It should assign key roles to specific people, and these people should be trained initially, as well as periodically refreshed, based on emerging business challenges and new circumstances.
  4. It must be updated and repeated every year.
  5. Any real crisis should be studied in terms of how it might inform future changes or additions to your plan.
  6. You need to consider the potential effectiveness of your crisis communications plan through the lens of your key audiences (and not just your “insider’s perspective”).
  7. Update your lists of key audiences and their contact information at least once a year.
  8. For certain types of businesses (those at higher risk of potential crises), consider doing real “tabletop exercises,” in which you role-play your actions and responses in a real-time role-playing situation.
  9. Study how other similar organizations have reacted and reacted in times of crisis to assess what they have done right and wrong that you can then learn from.
  10. Know who your primary third-party defenders are and keep them properly informed about your business in normal times and in times of crisis. Having a crisis communication plan is essential, but so is updating and practicing it constantly!

Cathy Ackermann, Founder and President of Ackermann Marketing and PR, can be reached at [email protected] For the online version of this column, please visit www.thinkackermann.com

Comments are closed.