The first step in being prepared for a crisis is having a plan. If you think you don’t need one, think again. Your organization doesn’t have to operate in a high-risk environment to experience a crisis. Building a crisis plan can be daunting, but the key is really knowing what you need. Here are three must-haves for any crisis communication plan to ensure your organization can strategically prepare to mitigate negative impacts:
1. Identify Your Needs and Risks
Start by defining the purpose and scope of your plan. What do you want to accomplish with it, and who do you need to reach? Create a list of success factors and identify risk points and scenarios that are applicable to your specific industry and organization. Also consider any existing procedures or policies the plan needs to align with, such as a spokesperson policy or an emergency response plan.
Once you’ve identified the who, what and why, you’re ready to build out the how–the process section of your plan. You can find a complete crisis planning checklist in our ebook.
2. Make Timely and Relevant Updates
Almost a third of companies don’t know if their crisis communication plan is up to date. Crisis communication plans are not a one-and-done deal. Effective plans are updated and reviewed regularly–ideally on a quarterly basis. All team members with a role in executing the plan should be involved in the review, even if it’s just a refresher on what their role entails. Time is of the essence in a crisis situation, and you’ll want everyone to be able to work quickly without being surprised or unclear about their responsibilities.
3. Stay Aware
A crisis can happen without warning, but there can also be signs that an issue is or might escalate to a full blown crisis. The sooner you recognize that kind of issue, the better you can avoid a crisis and mitigate risk to your organization. That’s why an important part of crisis management is regular media and social media monitoring to stay on top of issues specific to your company and industry.
What’s the takeaway? Successful crisis communications requires investing time and resources into developing an effective plan well before you need it. Ready to develop your crisis communication plan? Download our crisis ebook to get started!