Business owners need to be prepared to handle any type of crisis situation (aside of the current COVID crisis).

From a product recall to employee misconduct, financial mismanagement, or a natural disaster, bad stuff does happen, and it can affect any company, any time. And it won’t respect business opening hours or wait for the management team to be ready before it strikes.

The stakes are high because if a crisis is handled badly, then the reputation of the brand is in jeopardy.

How quickly the business responds, the quality of the leadership, the communication strategy and how willing management is to own up to mistakes will all determine whether the company emerges from the crisis as a winner or a loser. Planning ahead will help ensure your brand falls into the former rather than the latter category, if or when a crisis hits your business.

You got this …

Building a crisis news management team with responsibility for developing a well-rehearsed action plan is essential if your business is to emerge unscathed when the unthinkable happens.

Here’s our 7-point checklist for crisis news planning:

1. Pull together a crisis management team

The crisis management team should include the CEO, senior managers/key decision-makers from across the business and members of the communications team (internal or external).

2. Planning ahead – practice the response and then do it some more

Think about all the possible crisis scenarios that could confront your business, the obvious ones and the not so obvious. Develop a response for each event, however unlikely the reality of that situation may seem.

The planning stage should cover all the actions needed to keep control of the crisis as it unfolds. Typically, this will include internal/external protocols for reporting a crisis when it occurs or is anticipated; how each operational area of the business could be affected by a given scenario and how it should respond; the management of internal and external communications, including the all-important media liaison.

It is not unusual for companies to rehearse a crisis scenario in order to review and fine-tune an action plan. This approach becomes even more important in businesses with large numbers of stakeholders and increased levels of risk.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Prioritize the crisis posed by each scenario according to the level of risk. Think operationally and in terms of potential damage to reputation and focus planning efforts on the areas that present the greatest risk.

3. Managing the communication flow

The way the company communicates through the crisis is critical to how the business is perceived after the event.
A detailed plan for managing all internal and external communications is therefore essential and should cover all angles including: Identifying internal and external stakeholders and selecting communication channels; establishing contacts at key print and online media; selecting media spokespeople and organising crisis news management training; the sign off procedures for internal/external communications; setting up media and social media monitoring; ensuring image libraries are current; briefing of staff with front line responsibilities; out of hours contact details for key staff and media contacts. It’s important that contact info, distribution lists and social media log ins etc are kept up to date as changes are notified.

4. The COVID challenge

It’s worth remembering that the COVID situation presents a unique set of challenges. Businesses still need to communicate with stakeholders, despite the operational constraints enforced by remote working and social distancing.

5. Avoiding ‘no comment’

There is a rarely a valid reason to offer ‘no comment’ in a media interview but it is used frequently be personnel caught off guard during crisis situations. Avoid this pitfall by ensuring media spokespeople are briefed and remain on message as the crisis develops.

6. Using holding statements

Creating a series of pre-approved templated responses for each of the stakeholder groups across all of the crisis scenarios allows a swift response to initial enquiries and can help buy time initially whilst the crisis is under investigation.

7. A learning opportunity

Should your business be unfortunate enough to experience a crisis then treat it is a learning opportunity.

Ensure that post-event evaluation is undertaken to assess what was managed effectively and what areas could be improved. Put recommendations into place to ensure a more positive outcome next time round – yes, lightning can strike twice.

For further information or help in developing a crisis news management plan for your business, please contact Jane Newick 07907 566773

Contact us

PM HousE, Old PorTsmouTh Road, GuIldford GU3 1LZ  0330 043 1951  07907 566 773

PM HousE
Old PorTsmouTh Road
GuIldford GU3 1LZ 0330 043 1951  07907 566 773