Today’s digital environment and constant news cycle means crises can arise at any time, and from any source. Having a clear and effective plan can help maintain your brand’s reputation when things get tough. Here are a few tips to consider when developing your plan:
Understand stakeholders’ news habits
Like any good communications plan, one of the first things to consider when developing a crisis strategy is who your target audiences or stakeholders are and how they consume news. When your brand’s reputation is in danger, you want all your stakeholders to hear your side of the story and the communications tools you use should match their preferences.
Clearly define internal roles
There is almost nothing worse than conflicting messages coming from multiple sources within your organization during a crisis. A clearly-defined crisis team with individual roles and responsibilities is vital to the successful execution of a crisis plan. Knowing in advance who is responsible for developing and approving messaging and who is authorized to disseminate that information to each stakeholder group will help improve efficiency and effectiveness in crisis communication.
Often in a crisis scenario, communicators are so focused on external messaging that they forget about one of their most important stakeholder groups, their internal teams. Employees will inevitably be exposed to reputation-impacting information when it spreads externally. But, honest, open and transparent communications with internal teams ensures employees remain on your side during a crisis. It also encourages them to act as brand ambassadors if and when they are asked about the issue.
Develop an information center
The fast-moving nature of crisis communication can easily lead to confusion and inaccurate messaging from both internal and external sources. Transparent communication and a central repository of information and statistics gives you a valuable resource to share across channels and audiences to ensure the facts are easily available when conflicting statements arise.
Practice makes perfect
In an ideal world, you will rarely need to implement the crisis plan that you have developed. But when the time comes, you still want to know it like the back of your hand. Holding mock crisis drills gives your team a better understanding of their responsibilities so they are confident in their abilities when (not if) a real crisis occurs. Drills should vary in severity, focus and origin to ensure each group has an opportunity to practice and prepare.
Is your team prepared to handle a crisis in today’s connected environment? If not, we’re happy to share more about our crisis strategy experience and help your team prepare a crisis plan. Email [email protected] for more information.
Dan Horn is an account supervisor at Franco. You can send him an email at [email protected].