Crisis PR

Elements of a Crisis Communications Plan

You've been tasked with putting together your company's crisis communications plan. It's a big job, but you can do it well -- if you know the critical elements of a crisis communications plan and how to apply them to your business.

A crisis communication plan maps your company's response to a PR emergency.

Without a good crisis communication plan, your company will have to respond on the fly - and in a PR crisis that's when mistakes, missteps, and misunderstandings are most likely to occur.

To create an effective crisis communications, think preparation. Your communication plan's sole purpose is to prepare you and your staff to conduct a fast and accurate response in a crisis. Anything that prepares you to handle the crisis successfully is fair game for your communication plan, but most communication plans contain the following essential elements.

  • Crisis Policies & Procedures. When a crisis hits, chaos and confusion reign take over you workplace. Your first action should be to pull out your crisis communication plan and go over the policies and procedures section with staff members. This section of the plan describes how you will respond to the crisis, the formation of a crisis response team, and the staff's role in the response.
  • Designated Crisis Spokesperson. A single spokesperson approach is the best strategy for communicating with the media in the midst of a crisis. Your crisis communication plan should identify your spokesperson (with backups) and discuss how this person will function during the crisis.
  • Crisis Scenarios & Crisis Responses. It's impossible to plan for every contingency. However, you probably have a general idea about the kinds of PR crises that could strike your business. Present a list of possible crisis scenarios in your communication plan and discuss how the company will respond to each of them.
  • Generic Crisis Press Statement. Time is your enemy in a PR crisis. A fast response conveys the message that your company is taking the crisis seriously, even if your response doesn't provide much information about the crisis itself. Your communication plan should include a generic press statement that your designated spokesperson can release at the outset of a crisis.
  • Sample Crisis Press Releases. It's not a bad idea to create sample press releases for each crisis scenario. It's a good exercise, but more importantly it gives you the chance to research industry facts or figures that might be hard to dig up during a crisis.

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