Crisis Communications Planning or What To Do Before During Or After It Hits The Fan
Crisis Communications Planning or
What To Do Before, During Or After It Hits The Fan
By: J. Glenn Ebersole, Jr., Chief Executive of J. G. Ebersole Associates and The Renaissance Group™
Do you have a crisis management or crisis communications plan for your business or organization? Do you believe your business or organization is too small to need a crisis communications plan? Or do you believe that crises only happen to others?
If you are like the majority of businesses and organizations today, especially small to medium sized ones, you answered NO to the first question and probably YES to the second question. And I hope you answered NO to the third question.
Well, I cannot emphasize too strongly that no matter how big or small you are, every organization should have a crisis management and crisis communications plan.
If you read the newspapers or watch the news on TV or hear the news on the radio, you know that crises happen every day. No person or organization is immune from crises. Think about such recent crises as fires, bank robberies, corporate scandals, sexual harassment, product recalls, death of top executives, closing a facility, etc.
So what should you do? The answer: develop a crisis management plan in 2 parts. The first part is the crisis management plan (how your company or organization will deal with the crisis at hand to minimize negative impacts). The second part is the crisis communications plan (how you will communicate with the media and the public about the crisis).
Too many companies prepare one without the other. Both are critically important. Your goal needs to be that most crises will never get reported in the media because you handled the situation skillfully enough that it never became visible to the media. And the development and implementation of a good crisis communications plan will help make sure of that.
Some great tips and techniques for your crisis management program can be found on the Public Relations Society of America website and I recommend that you visit the website at:
www.prsa.org/_resources/resources/crisis.asp for Tips & Techniques: Crisis Management, with these headings.
General principles that can positively affect your actions and communication in a crisis situation.
Crisis communication planning can help you deal effectively with those unexpected disasters, emergencies or other unusual events that may cause unfavorable publicity for your organization.
Before the crisis, successful communication will depend, in large part, on the preparations you make long before the emergency occurs.
During the crisis, your focus is to deal with the situation, gather accurate information and communicate quickly.
Reporters provide few surprises in a crisis situation.
Your spokesperson should be forthright in dealing with media questions. There are, however, some questions he or she simply cannot and should not answer.
Your spokesperson should not respond to media questions with "no comment" because this answer can imply a lack of cooperation, an attempt to hide something or a lack of concern. There are more appropriate responses when he or she either doesn't have one or is not at liberty to give certain information
After The Crisis
My goal with this article and recommending that you visit the PRSA website is to cause you to think about taking some initial steps to prepare yourself and your organization to start the development of a crisis management and communications plan. Don't wait until “it hits the fan” to start your planning. Please contact Glenn Ebersole today @ firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how I can facilitate and guide you through the process.
P.S. I also have developed a presentation for companies and organizations which I entitle: “What to Do Before, During and When It Hits The Fan” and have presented this to many types of businesses and organizations. If you would like to have me speak to your company or group, please contact me at email@example.com.