Top TakeAways from Apr. 20th – Crisis Communications: It’s All About the Plan

Presenter:  Abbie S. Fink of HMA Public Relations with Renea Gentry & Connie Phillips

A crisis communications plan ensures that responsible members of your organization take appropriate actions in a timely manner when and if a crisis situation arises. If followed accordingly, this plan will also:

  • Keep confidence and satisfaction among your stakeholders
  • Protect financial resources and save management time
  • Avoid costly litigation

Crisis Plan Goals:

  • Provide general guidelines for decision-making prior to and following a crisis situation
  • Identify/clarify responsibilities & Ensure that time is used wisely
  • Minimize down time or business disruption
  • Ensure accurate, timely, consistent information to employees and media
  • Minimize confusion and rumors, protecting the organization’s reputation and brand
  • Maintain credible relationship with community, industry and the media to support rebuilding efforts

A small “Crisis Team,” consisting of select representatives of the organization, will have full authority to act rapidly on behalf of the organization in resolving a crisis. The team will be charged with the responsibility of mobilizing all available resources to resolve the crisis and to restore order, as needed.

The very nature of an emergency doesn’t always guarantee the full attendance of each member of the Crisis Team. Consequently, the duties and responsibilities are interchangeable and can be delegated to other trained personnel.

Post-Crisis is a very important part of the crisis plan. This is a chance for the Crisis Team to pull together and evaluate its performance.

Post-Crisis Evaluation Cycle:

  • Review media coverage; conduct content analysis- how was the crisis handled?
  • Have post-crisis visuals: assess the damage by crisis
  • Have a pool from the media come and view post-crisis conditions
  • Meet with response team to evaluate plan’s successes and failures
  • Keep all employees informed on all developments

Riding Out the Storm:

No matter what the nature of a crisis, whether it’s good news or bad news, no matter how carefully you’ve prepared and responded…some of your audiences are not going to react the way you want them to. This can be immensely frustrating. What do you do?

  • Take a deep breath
  • Take an objective look at the reaction(s) in question. Is it your fault, or their unique interpretation?
  • Decide if another communication to that audience is likely to change that impression for the better or make it worse.
  • Decide if making that additional communication is worth the effort.

Update Crisis Plan no less often than every three months or sooner if:

  • Crisis occurs
  • Changes are made to key team leaders or their contact information•

Abbie S. Fink

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