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

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