3 Ways to Create a Bulletproof Crisis Communication Plan
Just as nations have an Emergency Response Plan to manage the damage of natural disasters, companies need to be prepared with a damage control strategy to manage their communication during disasters, especially in industries like aviation, logistics, healthcare, and FMCG. Big or small, the biggest mistake companies can make is assuming nothing bad will ever happen to them. Crises are an unavoidable fact of life and are uncontrollable. Companies make themselves vulnerable to immense risk by not being prepared with a crisis communication strategy. A negative story about the brand can damage its reputation and/or affect sales or stock value. PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021 reported that 69% of business leaders experienced a crisis over five years, with the average number of crises being three, yet only 30% of respondents said they had a crisis management team in place when the pandemic hit.
Why invest time in a Crisis Comms plan?
The actions taken in the initial minutes of a crisis are critical. Instead of making haphazard decisions in the heat of the moment when faced with negative publicity, a prepped and vetted PR Crisis Plan helps make quick and effective decisions. Only 49% of respondents to a 2021 Deloitte survey say their companies have playbooks for likely crisis scenarios, showing that if there was a damaging story about them, chances are…
Let’s take a look at 3 ways to ensure a robust Crisis Comms Plan:
Perform a crisis audit
First things first, find out what areas in your firm are vulnerable by conducting a crisis audit. During the audit, crisis response team with the help of PR specialists can identify threats, understand the public perception of the brand as well as the internal perception of employees and which departments face the most scrutiny. Once you have identified the firm’s weak spots, place these on a priority list to prevent a probable crisis and build a communications plan surrounding these.
Keep an eye on the news
In the same Deloitte survey, it was reported that businesses that have already experienced a crisis say the most important takeaways or what they would do differently are to improve the identification of crisis scenarios (34%), execute a more timely communications plan (29%), and conduct more effective internal communications (29%). This indicates that monitoring is one of the key aspects of creating a bulletproof crisis comms plan. When multiple sources like customer complaints, faulty products, product recalls, and corporate scandals are pegging your company with a bad reputation, your team shouldn’t be the last to find out. This is why crisis monitoring and analysis is a crucial aspect of laying a strong foundation for your crisis communication strategy.
Hire an expert
The aim of being prepared for a crisis is to shorten the news cycle and protect brand reputation. When hiring an outside communications advisor with crisis management experience, you can rest assured that as a crisis unfolds, your PR team already has a comprehensive plan that covers every avenue to protect the firm. For example, one of the ways is through the organisation of a crisis spokesperson training for senior executives for them to be prepared with media response tactics. When called on to interview/comment on the situation, simple answers from the firm’s representative can often stop the media from pursuing the story further helping with crisis de-escalation. Development of a crisis management plan is also important and to be rolled out in advance. When any crisis occurs, the management should already have a crisis communication toolkit to be simply actioned. Waiting until a crisis occurs to plan crisis communication procedures will only confuse and could lengthen the news cycle’s focus on your firm.
Crisis preparedness is essential to ensure that your business makes it through the crisis and can move on and continue to achieve its objectives.