10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 7 Include a Media Crisis Plan

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #7 Include a media crisis plan

In a crisis, the media can be your friend. A media crisis plan provides guidelines for how to leverage the media in a crisis rather than
struggling with it. Someone must be tasked with taking the names and phone numbers of reporters, finding out their deadlines and ensuring phone calls are returned. Media lines should be written that indicate that you want to cooperate and provide accurate information. Your media crisis plan will help you deal with heavy media enquiry pressure.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

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10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 6 Create a Crisis Communications Kit

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #6 Create a crisis communications kit

The following documents should be included in any crisis communications kit, in paper and digital form. Pencils, lined paper and a manual typewriter should be available.

  1. A list of the members of the crisis communication team each with two back-ups
  2. Contact information for key officers, spokesperson(s), and crisis management team members
  3. Fact sheets on the company, each division, each physical location, and each product offered (Photos should also be included)
  4. Profiles and biographies for each key manager in your company
  5. Copies of your company, division and product logos, your press release format and the scanned in signature of your CEO
  6. Pre-approved scripts answering key questions that have been generated in advance to respond to risks identified in the risk evaluation (Included in these scripts should be the words used to say “we don’t have that information yet, but will let you know as soon as it becomes available”)
  7. Contact information for each of your key media contacts both locally, nationally, and if appropriate, key financial press and analysts
  8. Contact information for your  appropriate political, regulatory, and union leaders
  9. Contact information for any Public Relations firm which may be contracted to provide specialized crisis communication services or back-up the crisis communications team

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 5 Designate a trained spokesperson

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #5 Designate appropriate company spokesperson(s) in the crisis communications plan and ensure that they are trained.

Within each team, there should be individuals who are the only ones authorized to speak for the organization in times of crisis. The CEO should be one of those spokespersons, but not necessarily the primary spokesperson. The fact is that some chief executives are brilliant business people but not very effective in-person communicators. The decision about who should speak is made after a crisis breaks — but the pool of potential spokespersons should be identified and trained in advance.

Not only are spokespersons needed for media communications, but for all types and forms of communications, internal and external, including on-camera, at a public meeting, at employee meetings, etc. Designate each type of spokesperson in the plan and provide spokesperson training.  Stakeholders perception is key. It is your responsibility to ensure that messages are not misunderstand or misinterpreted Spokesperson training will enable the spokesperson team to be ready to respond in a way that optimizes the response of all stakeholders.

All employees must be informed that any media inquiries must be directed to the designated spokesperson team. No one else should speak with the press.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 4 Test Notification system

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #4 Test the crisis notification mechanism.

The crisis communications plan must be included the exercise schedule.  It is also important to randomly test the crisis notification mechanism every two or three weeks to ensure that the messages are being received and understood.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

Strong Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans include employee home preparedness

Resiliency of your Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans rely on company human resources to ensure that the processes you have put in place are put into action. In any catastrophic event, our natural instinct is to protect ourselves and our family.  In time of crisis, the employee you need on site may not be available because of concerns at home. Alternatively, the employee may be on site for you but the worry about family members at home may interfere with the employee’s ability to fully focus on your needs.

As the first full week of May marks Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, it’s a good time to think about ensuring your employees are prepared at home in the event that you need them at work to implement your EM and BC plans. What can your employees do to be ready at home in the event you need them to help in a time of crisis? What can you do to help them focus on your needs and ensure that their families are taken care of while they are at work?

Here are just a few ideas to help you prepare your employees in case you need them:

  • Provide information about home emergency preparedness in your plan training and exercise sessions.
  • Create a flyer or webpage with tips to emergency preparedness for your employees.
  • Encourage your employees to create a family emergency plan. Kids love scavenger hunts. What a great way to have your employee make it a fun family activity by challenging their children to hunt around the house to fill their emergency preparedness kit.
  • Include in your EM and BC plans some potential options to ensure the safety and welfare of your employees’ families in the event you need them at work. Knowing their families are safe will benefit both you and your employees by allowing them to focus on your needs without worrying about their family members.

Public Safety Canada has a wealth of information and materials that you can share with employees, including promotional materials, flyers and posters. You can find more information at http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/.

Get prepared! Know the risks, create your family plan and prepare your emergency kit.

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 3 Define your Scope

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #3 Define the scope of the crisis communications plan

If you have conducted a comprehensive risk assessment you will have discovered a large number of risks that could destroy your organization but not physically impact your people, information, equipment or facilities. A corporate crisis communication plan will include these risks and will be invoked much more often than a business continuity or response plan.

If your organization does not have a corporate crisis communication plan, you may want to limit the scope of the crisis communication plan associated with the business continuity management program. Define the set of risks to which it will respond or limit its use to the activation of the emergency operations centre (EOC).

Begin planning crisis communication early in your program as an independent project. The risk evaluation and Business Impact Analysis should be designed to provide information for the crisis communication plan.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

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