Crisis Communication Planning

Elliott-Kelley By Elliott Kelley, PR and Social Media Manager

Over the last 18 months, we all learned one invaluable lesson: You cannot predict every crisis, and you cannot control all variables.

Your company is not always going to be faced with a crisis that is on par with a global pandemic. However, you could face a different crisis that can be detrimental to your brand and requires accurate, timely information for your associates and external audiences.

Whether it is the loss of a facility due to a fire, death or injury of an employee, layoffs, bankruptcy or pending legal action, your team should have a crisis plan in place well before any crisis occurs. Once the crisis occurs, it is too late to determine who is authorized to issue statements for the organization, what business contingency actions can and should be taken or how internal/external statements should be drafted.

A good crisis communication plan can accomplish the following:

  • Ensure your team is safe
  • Inform of ongoing investigations or health updates as appropriate
  • Activate a crisis management structure
  • Empathize with associates and the community impacted
  • Evaluate areas where changes can and should be made
  • Protect the equity of your brand

As noted by television producer and crisis manager Judy Smith, “There’s always an opportunity with crisis. Just as it forces an individual to look inside himself, it forces a company to reexamine its policies and practices.”

No crisis is the same. Thus, no crisis response should be the same. One crisis may require press conferences and media centers while another is better managed through issued statements. To succeed, you need to evaluate your industry and types of crises your firm may face to develop a comprehensive plan. Then, when the time comes, put the plan into practice as a training drill for your team members. Your business is best protected when the crisis plan is known and rehearsed frequently. Further, your team should be familiar with crafting plain language communication statements.

In addition to a comprehensive strategic plan, consider hiring an experienced partner capable of media training your crisis team to ensure they are prepared for any interview. Learn more in our recent blog about key message training.

Experience in front of the camera is also essential. When that spotlight is on, it’s easy to forget your training. So practice in front of the camera too. For example, our full production studio also allows our clients to develop experience in front of the camera or to capture prerecorded statements as needed. Depending on your organization’s needs, an external partner’s team can also be activated to serve as a spokesperson for your firm.

It just so happens that Jackson’s public relations team, with over 85 years of combined experience, is well versed in developing, training and executing crisis communication plans. From global firms that contract with the federal government to healthcare systems, Jackson has the experience to protect and best position your brand to weather the unknown.