The best time to hire a crisis PR team is today, before any public relations disaster has occurred. Hiring a PR team for crisis communications planning may seem expensive: but hiring a PR team after a crisis occurs to clean up the damage is even more expensive. Hiring public relations professionals to develop a crisis communications strategy before tragedy occurs is a smart investment in your company's future.
A crisis is any event that unexpectedly
disrupts your business.
A crisis communications strategy is needed when the unexpected occurs. Your crisis communications plan will be used when a crisis is both a negative event, or something good but unplanned occurs:
- your server crashes due to overwhelming response to your new product launch
- a natural disaster disrupts your long-planned fundraising event
- political groups take offense to your brand or message
- a celebrity makes an unexpected positive endorsement of your product or cause
Alchemy Communications works with organizations to both prepare for a crisis before it happens and with businesses that are unexpectedly faced with an event that can damage their reputation and profitability. You can protect your business's reputation by being prepared for a crisis before it happens. Download our free Crisis Communications Checklist, then customize it before the unexpected occurs.
10 Point Crisis Communication Checklist
- Identify Your Crisis Management Team
Your crisis management team should be experts on the day-to-day management of your business and preferably have training in crisis communications.
- Appoint a Crisis Spokesperson
Your crisis spokesperson can be an internal stakeholder, or an outside PR and media expert. They should have training on working with the media and public, and keeping their cool and staying on message during frustrating circumstances.
- Implement Your Interim Messaging
Before speaking out on a situation take the time to find out the facts. The time-frame to track down events and issue a statement has grown shorter due to the rapid exchange of information on social media. When you don't have the facts, admit it. Never lie to the public. An interim message will convey to the public and media that your are aware, concerned and investigating the event.
- Reach Out To Trusted Media Contacts
Your community has media professionals who have either covered your organization or have an interest in your niche. Make them aware that you are actively working to provide public updates to your crisis and enlist their support on getting your message out.
- Activate Your Internal Notification Strategy
What system have you put in place to keep stakeholders - board, employees, volunteers - aware of unexpected events, and remind them that they are not authorized to speak on behalf of your organization. Identify who is your authorized spokesperson and how to refer information requests to them.
- Monitor Traditional and Social Media Channels
Stay aware of what's being said about the event and by whom by designating team members to monitor news media and and listening to social media channels.
- Establish Your Key Message(s)
Once you have assessed the situation, create your key messages to update the media and public on your crisis event status.
- Audit Pre-Scheduled Social Media Posts
Many businesses use tool to post pre-planned messages to social media. Identify a social media expert to audit your scheduled social media posts and remove any planned posts that appear insensitive, contradictory or incorrect in light of the current crisis. There may be a need to delete or update previously posted social media messages.
- Evaluate Your Website as a Communications Tool
The public and media may be visiting your website to get more information on your crisis. Consider whether your crisis messaging needs to be prominently featured on your website.
- Review and Update Your Crisis Communications Plan
Throughout your crisis event review and update your crisis strategy and make sure your plan takes into account how events are unfolding and changing during the crisis. Once your event has passes, conduct an internal audit of your handling of the crisis event and update your crisis communications strategy to reflect what you have learned.
Crisis communications planning should be an ongoing process for your business, with a plan of action ready to implement if the unexpected happens. The last thing your organization needs is a series of public media mistakes and missteps when you are most exposed and vulnerable.