Crisis Communications: Not if, but when.

lisa cargill

Lisa Cargill
Vice President

Nov 3, 2015 | Crisis, Point of View

crisis black

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE SAYING “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Yet many organizations don’t remember the last time they looked at or updated their crisis communications plan. Or worse yet, they don’t have one.

Ice storm, employee suicide, missing child, leadership scandal. These are just some of the crises we’ve helped organizations through. We’re consistently reminded that planning ahead can be the difference between becoming a best practice or being that organization no one wants to emulate.

Don’t know where to start? Consider this:

Get your ducks in a row

What scenarios are likely to happen? Put your Debbie Downer hat on and go to town. Accidents, terrorism, sex scandals, rumors, violence and natural disasters are a few to consider. Think about ones you or your employees might be at fault for, and then think about ones others might create for you. Put fingers to keys and draft at least a holding statement for each scenario. Also gather what you already have – policies and protocols, a phone tree, core set of messages, etc. From there, start filling in the gaps.

See if your ducks can fly

Tabletop exercise or full-fledged drill, pick one and put your plan to the test! Put your spokesperson(s) on camera and have them practice with your organization’s basic key messages. They’ll make mistakes and experience what hot lights and empty lenses feel like before they’re live. Be sure to debrief after – what went well, what should be changed or added to make the plan better?s.

Observe the pond

Watch how other organizations handle crisis. What do those who get it right do? What blunders can you avoid? Write down your observations and use them as conversation starters with your team – especially if you’re seeking support for crisis planning, training and drills. Amend your plan based on lessons learned.

So, is your organization ready for a crisis?

Who takes the lead internally? What would you say if it was your fault? How would you comfort a victim? The time investment to answer questions like these, and to create a plan will pay off. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

This is the first in a series of blogs about crisis communications plans.

Learn more about crisis communications plans for public utilities and how to get prepared →

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