Crisis communication demands a plan

The 7 steps you can begin today to prepare for the worst.

If you have a business with a great deal of “touchpoints” with consumers, it is absolutely essential that you prepare for catastrophe and hope you never need to use it. We certainly learned from events of 9-11 that the unthinkable can happen and ALL types of business can be directly impacted.

There are many operational, safety, and legal issues that should be addressed in your plan. The focus of this article is on your communication planning. Here are some tips for setting up a simple crisis communication plan to get you started.

1. Assemble your crisis communications “dream team” to brainstorm the “what if’s”. Team members might include your CEO, VP of Communications, CFO, Risk Management Officer, CTO and Safety/Security Director.

2. Identify vulnerable areas of your business.

3. Prepare a media relations plan. Define who is authorized to speak to the press.

4. Draft press communication template with the assistance of a communication professional. Map messages to the appropriate spokesman.

5. Carefully train all authorized media spokespersons.

6. Communicate your plan to EVERY employee. Everyone in the company should know what to do if a crisis hit. They should know who i authorized to speak to the media on behalf of the company.

7. Design¬† a train-the-trainer program for each department to ensure the your crisis communications program has a “communications captain” in each division to ensure that the message get out. These captains not only extend your leadership in the event of a crisis, but also are key people to involve when conducting drills because they can be your eyes and ears on the front lines. Their feedback helps you to continually refine your plan.

The best-laid plans are not shelved. They are rehearsed. Once your plan is complete, make a commitment to take it for a test drive. Being prepared pays big dividends when your company faces a crisis.