A crisis situation can occur at a moment’s notice, even when reasonable precautions are in place. The way in which an organization handles and responds to a crisis situation can have a long-lasting impact on brand reputation and key business relationships. Organizations are smart to make crisis planning part of their 2021 planning and strategy. Companies can ensure they are prepared to respond to a crisis in a timely, effective and responsible manner by evaluating their crisis process, team, and the tools and resources they have in place.
Updated crisis process
The first — and most critical — element of crisis preparedness is to have an updated crisis communication plan in place. Organizations that already have crisis plans can update them regularly, at least on an annual basis. Schedule crisis scenarios/drills to ensure processes work, especially if it’s been more than a year since the organization has conducted drills or if staff turnover has impacted the crisis team. At the same time, update employee guidelines for responding to media inquiries and social media posts. Conduct training with key employees to ensure these guidelines are understood and easily accessible.
Dedicated crisis team
Avoid waiting for a crisis to strike to figure out who’s in charge or who will do what. Ensure in advance that your organization has a dedicated crisis management and communication team in place, each with clear roles and responsibilities. One of the most critical external roles during a crisis is the organization’s media spokesperson. Identify the spokesperson and provide that person the proper coaching. Managers and other key leaders can also go through crisis training in order to spot and report a potential crisis well in advance. Think ahead about the right partnerships and collaborative relationships to have in place. A successful crisis response plan includes an in-house or external communication team with members who have deep experience in crisis response communication. Lastly, ensure your crisis and business continuity teams have coordinated crisis response plans that work together.
Crisis Response Tools & Resources
Having template crisis response materials developed and approved in advance will save an organization valuable reaction time when in a crisis. Likewise, having a news media and social media monitoring service is critical — both to watch for crisis warning signs and to provide real-time, updated information and coverage during a crisis situation. Finally, identify the organization’s preferred communication channels for key stakeholders including employees, customers, business partners, community and regulatory/compliance agencies.
Remember, it’s not a matter of if — but when — a crisis will strike. Be prepared in order to best protect and preserve your organization’s brand reputation and relationships.