When a crisis hits an organisation or brand, it is essential that all communication, both external and internal, whether it is to employees, the media, or stakeholders, is consistent, transparent and displays integrity.
Preparation is key. Like an insurance policy, a communication plan is the only way for an organisation or brand to minimise media and reputational damage. Failure to communicate effectively can be disastrous.
Here are Thrive PR’s top tips on how to manage the explosion:
Brainstorm the crisis scenarios likely to surround your organisation or brand. This exercise will allow you to prepare for the worst and plan your key messages and actions accordingly.
Identify your crisis communications team
Your crisis communications team will ideally be led by your organisation or brands CEO and include representatives from your communication and legal team. If you do not have the expertise or capacity in-house, you should retain an agency or consultant with crisis communications expertise.
Media train your spokesperson
Identify specific spokespeople. Media train them against the crisis scenarios you have identified.
Define the process of what happens when a crisis strikes. Be clear, perhaps with a flow chart, of who calls who, when, who distributes handling statements – the less approvals on the go, the better.
Monitor and utilise all platforms
It is essential when planning, to establish what platforms your organisation will use to communicate. Using more than one platform will give you a much greater chance of communicating your messages.
Likewise, identify what platforms you’ll use to listen and to monitor what is being said about you.
Identify your stakeholders
Who are the internal and external stakeholders that matter to your organisation or brand? Know who they are, where they are and know how to get to them quickly.
While tailored messages can only be developed following an explosion, ‘holding statements’ designed for use immediately after a crisis breaks, can be developed in advance.
Your crisis communications team should regularly review holding statements, to determine if they require revision and/or whether statements for other scenarios should be developed.
Real-Time & Post-Crisis
Assess the crisis
What is the crisis? What and who does it involve? Who are your most important stakeholders to influence? An organisation or brand should not react without being well informed. If you have prepared, your crisis communications team will be ready to control the explosion, however, if unprepared for the crisis, don’t comment until the explosion has been reviewed and you can consider what the appropriate response and course of action should be.
Adapt Key Messages & Your Plan
With ‘holding statements’ available as a starting point, the crisis communications team must develop the crisis-specific messages required for the given situation.
Your pre-planning now kicks into gear and your 24/7 ‘always-on’ approach rolls out.
Don’t forget social media. If your organisation isn’t communicating on social platforms, others will be.
Utilise your social media platforms to link back to statements and FAQs. Use social tools to ID and communicate with your influencers.
& Finally…Lessons Learnt
What did we learn from this? What was done right, what was done wrong, what did we miss, how and why? Document your answers to these questions and more. This will help allow for better planning and strengthen areas of forward planning.