Be ready or you won’t like the results

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Having a thorough crisis communications plan for your business has always been important. In today’s 24 / 7 communications world, it’s even more important. You want to be prepared if something does happen.

What is needed in your crisis communication plan? Here are a few suggestions…

  • Select a Crisis Communication Team. The team should include the company CEO, a VP, your PR person, senior management and the company attorney.
  • Identify potential crises that could happen. Every day there are news stories about a business in crisis. Don’t be swayed by the “that could never happen here” attitude.
  • Set up clear procedures and protocols to follow when a crisis occurs. Include a task & timeline that spells out specific duties and who should take care of those tasks.
  • Select and train a spokesperson. Having the right person front and center is crucial. It may or may not be the company CEO. Be sure he or she is the right person in front of the microphones and cameras. Your CEO may also have higher priorities during the crisis.
  • Set clear media policies and procedures and be sure everyone in the company knows what to do if the media contacts them.
  • ID your target audiences and don’t forget to communicate to your internal audience.
  • Draft sample news releases / media statements. When the crisis is taking place is no time to start writing a news release or media statement. Have some basic releases / statements prepared in advance that can be filled in with the specifics of the situation.
  • Based on your target audiences, compile contact lists. Be sure to include media outlets, vendors, staff, regulators, local officials and others who may need to be contacted.
Once your crisis communication plan is developed, don’t let it sit on a shelf and gather dust. Review it, update it and practice it regularly so you’re ready to go if a crisis hits.