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The importance of crisis communication planning

The importance of crisis communication planning -cover

For organizations and business owners across all industries, 2020 has been a challenging year.

While no one could have anticipated the extensive changes that our world is experiencing, those that had taken the time to develop crisis communication plans were better prepared for the unprecedented actions they have faced.

The last thing you want to do during a crisis is to begin formulating your response plan. Advanced planning can help bridge the gap and prepare your organization in the best ways possible for uncertainty that may lie ahead.

Building an initial crisis communication plan may seem a bit overwhelming. However, by focusing on a few key areas, your organization will be able to quickly develop a framework to guide you through the process.

While an effective crisis communication plan involves a number of elements, it ultimately should be kept as simple and as easy to understand as possible.

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  1. First, it is important to assess your company’s risks and determine potential business impact. While it will be nearly impossible to anticipate every crisis situation, it is feasible to identify the areas that will have the biggest impact on your day-to-day operations, and plan for them.

  2. Secondly, identify the members of the crisis communication team and describe their roles. Who has the authority to activate the crisis plan? Who will act as spokesperson? What are the roles of other team members? Who will handle distributing the communications?

  3. Next, build the plan. This is the opportunity to outline the necessary steps for creating internal and external communication, as well as identifying the fastest, and most reliable, distribution methods to get your messages heard by the right audience. Imagine how you would respond to a variety of hypothetical events. By giving this some thought now, it will save you from thinking about it during a crisis situation.

  4. You should also take the time to develop an accurate contact list. During a crisis situation, your team will likely not have time to search for emails and phone numbers. In addition to key media members, appropriate contact information should also be included for emergency responders, board members, vendors, suppliers and all other stakeholders you may need to immediately communicate with during a crisis. 

    Be sure to also include relevant information such as your organization’s media and social media policy, as well as updated fact sheets and bio information of key leadership and executives. It is also helpful to have media call logs created to track inquiries and ensure appropriate follow-up.

  5. Once your crisis communication plan is created and has been tested, be sure to take the time to update it annually, at a minimum. It’s vital to keep the plan updated, especially as employees join or leave the organization or other changes occur.

It is important to realize that there is a big difference between being prepared and feeling prepared. If you need assistance in developing, or implementing your crisis communication plans, ddm has the background, knowledge and experience to help guide you through the process.