Crisis Communication: How To Anticipate, Prepare and Respond

Depending on what type of business you have, a crisis could be anything from shipping a batch of defective products to a big client or having unsavory information about high-ranking employees leaked to the public.

A crisis can be anything that could potentially cause harm to your business and tarnish its reputation. This is why having crisis communication strategies in place is crucial. When a crisis arises, you won’t have time to waste while you get your ducks in a row figuring out what just happened and what to do.

Step 1: Anticipate with a Threat Analysis and Risk Management Plan

You need to be proactive and run a periodic threat analysis of potential problems that could arise in your business. Analyzing potential threats will help you manage risks and prepare for different case-scenarios. It is better to plan ahead than having to plan under pressure in the heat of the moment.

Step 2: Prepare

Knowing who will say what in the case of a crisis, ahead of time, can help to keep communications clear while the rest of the team can focus on addressing the crisis.

Establish protocols
For every potential risk your crisis communication team can brainstorm, have them prepare a plan for how to handle each one.

Identify crisis communication team
Your crisis communication team should include the company CEO, a PR executive, other high-level executives and legal counsel advisors. If your company has different divisions or departments, then the heads of those areas should be included as well.

Identify and train spokespeople
Each crisis communication team should have designated speakers who have been trained specifically in crisis communication. A main speaker should be designated; however, you should have at least two backup speakers that can take their place if needed.

Identify stakeholders for each potential crisis
Different problems will effect different people so it is important to identify who you are trying to target with your communication efforts in order to resolve the issue.

Develop communication statements
When different vulnerabilities are anticipated, ‘holding statements’ can be written before hand for immediate release when disaster strikes. This can buy you more time to prepare a more fully developed message.

Step 3: When the Crisis Happens Assess and Respond

Before your crisis communication team can handle the situation, they will need to assess the crisis. After assessing the damage and choosing the right plan of action, the crisis communication team needs to adapt key messages to stakeholders. They will need to modify their message in order to include the right amount of information stakeholders need to know about the situation as well as how your business plans to resolve the issue at hand.

Crises are often exacerbated when communications fall apart or go wrong. Make sure that your business is equipped to manage any crisis that may surface, be it big or small, with crisis communication strategies and plans. With a little planning, you can minimize risk, and if a crisis does take place, contain panic.