A crisis communication plan is a must for any business. In today’s day and age, it’s not a matter of if, but when a crisis may occur.
For some, this may come as troubling news. But if you are ready for that cyber breach, fire, spill, flood or natural disaster, you will likely be in a better position to minimize damage. Have you tested your organization’s ability to respond in a crisis? This is all part of coming up with a crisis communication plan that will protect your business.
Steps for Developing Your Crisis Communication Plan
Before a Crisis Hits
Determine the Pitfalls – It’s time to take a good look at all scenarios, and develop a strategy to address what could go wrong. With this step, it’s OK to catastrophize a little bit. Spending some time now dwelling on the worst case can leave you more prepared in the long run. If you operate an oil and gas facility, spills, fires or hazardous waste are all potential risks.
In a corporate office setting, your handling of data could be compromised. Governments might need to address political unrest or the systematic hacking efforts of a rival power. What situations are unique to your industry or organization? It’s time to evaluate your worst-case scenarios and determine your best response.
Determine the Point People – Everyone within your organization should have a clear understanding of who’s in charge in the event of a disaster. It should be clear who will handle media communications, who will carry out emergency response coordination and who will handle safety protocols. It’s important to designate these people beforehand, as you develop an adequate crisis communication plan. When everyone has a clear idea of their roles, your team can more efficiently carry out their intended tasks when disaster strikes.
Practice the Hard Questions – The media won’t shy away from challenging questions – especially if your crisis impacts the public good. Your public relations team should be prepared with a carefully-worded and coordinated response. Poor word choice can inflame high-stakes situations and create the opposite effect.
During the Crisis
Collect Information – Manual input can be an inefficient means for information gathering during a crisis. Even though time is moving quickly during a disaster, it’s important to make informed decisions. The use of networked crisis communication platforms such as Blackberry AtHoc will allow you to trust the information that comes in.
Update Your Messaging – Even if you have previously-drafted crisis communication templates, you’ll still need to update them to fit the details of your current situation. This takes a lot less time than creating these messages from scratch in the midst of crisis. AtHoc Alert can help you with preconfigured scenarios and the accompanying messages.
Handle the Information – There’s no sense in creating more chaos. You can choose who sees your message and which specific networks need to take action. This gives you the freedom to exclude unnecessary personnel. You can also have a centralized point-person, so conflicting reports don’t add to the confusion.
Talk to the Authorities – It’s important to communicate with the appropriate authorities as needed. Follow their suggestions and directions. Make sure to designate people accustomed to talking with outside organizations, so all necessary information is delivered.
A Quick Response – Chances are the media and the outside community have questions. Make sure to respond as timely as possible. The first step to preserving your reputation through this crisis occurs when you are transparent and open with the public.
Following the Crisis
Review – There is a lot of information to be gleaned in hindsight. For example, were there actions that could be taken to prevent this type of crisis from occurring again? If it does reoccur, would your response be different in any way? These are important considerations in fine-tuning your crisis communication plan.
Modify – Now is the time to make any changes to your crisis communication plan that seem necessary. If there were aspects that you were underprepared for, maybe you need to add additional detailed steps. If there were actions that seemed unnecessary, maybe they can be eliminated.
Where Does Your Organization Stand?
Some organizations are better than others at anticipating a crisis. These steps can help you to anticipate the details and be ready the next time disaster may strike. Networked crisis management platforms can be a tremendous asset in a dire situation.
The Blackberry AtHoc Suite connects devices, individuals and organizations across the globe in the event of a crisis. The integrated applications can help your organization remain perfectly connected when it matters most.
Blackberry AtHoc leverages a supreme mobile solution with a powerful infrastructure that brings secure, real-time solutions to your organization. You can communicate with anyone, anywhere, across any device.
Disasters by their very nature are unpredictable. The stronger your crisis communication plan, the stronger your organization is. Make sure you are ready.