Crisis Communications: Is it Time for Your Crisis PR Reset?

crisis readiness

One thing that gets talked about a lot in the public relations business is crisis communications. You read articles like this one, perhaps you go to conferences or participate in webinars on the topic. You follow people on social media who give you a steady diet of crisis PR tips and tricks. But what is the current state of your crisis management readiness?

Some people who make money as crisis PR speakers rather than counselors like to say you can “crisis proof” your business. I think that’s naïve.

Especially today, you can’t crisis-proof your organization, but you can improve your readiness. With that in mind, here’s a quick checklist of items to revisit if you’re not so sure of your crisis management readiness.

#1 – Do You Have a Plan? Is it Up to Date?

If you haven’t touched your crisis communications plan in five years or longer, it’s out of date. Too many things have happened in the past five years that have changed the landscape for communication. It’s far more likely today than it was that you can find yourself in a middle of a crisis even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Social media, aggressive activist groups, the digital “mob” have honed their skills at embroiling unsuspecting organizations and individuals in controversy even if they’ve done nothing wrong.  That alone is reason enough to go back and see if you’re prepared for the kinds of crises you could face now.

#2 – Are Your Likely Spokespersons Trained and Coached?

You may have different spokespersons for different situations. The time to make sure they’re ready for the next crisis is now, when there is no crisis. Even if they’ve been trained before, refresher training and coaching helps keep them sharp, and it gives you an excuse to keep crisis readiness top-of-mind in the organization. I’ve found that Zoom has made it much easier to incorporate high-level media training into the regular routine.

#3 – Do You Have Good Monitoring Systems in Place?

How are your monitoring systems? Does your organization have its ‘finger’ on the pulse of what’s happening among your key stakeholders on social media, at trade shows and conferences, in the news media? What are your competitors up to? What are the activists, regulators and analysts who follow your organization and your industry up to?

Good monitoring systems will help you spot a crisis before you face one.

#4 – Is Your Crisis Team Identified and Accessible?

Even if your senior management team is your crisis management team, it’s important to make sure you know general roles and responsibilities should a crisis occur, and that current members of the organization are assigned to the most critical roles. Tied to this, you should have all of their contact information, including cell phone numbers, should you need to reach them on a moment’s notice.

#5 – Are Your Internal and External Contact Lists Current?

What’s the current status of your employee list and contact mechanisms? Can you text everyone? Do you have email addresses for everyone? Are they current?

This also goes for the news media, elected officials, regulators, community leaders, civic leaders, analysts, major customers, major vendors, partners and others.

#6 – Have You Been Meeting Regularly with Your Crisis Team?

If your organization is like most, this may be your Achilles heel when it comes to crisis readiness. People get busy. Crisis preparation is not high on the list of things to do when more pressing priorities take center stage.

With that in mind, it’s probably best not to try to reserve full-blown crisis readiness meetings on a monthly or even quarterly basis. But what you can do is incorporate modular crisis readiness components into existing or already planned meetings. Take a small part of the agenda once a month at the weekly management meeting to cover one aspect of crisis readiness. That’s making sure that if there is a weekly meeting, in at least one of those meetings every month crisis readiness is on the agenda.

Why not every week? Overkill. If you do this too much the people will learn to tune you out.

Make sure crisis readiness is a key part of the agenda at the organization’s annual management or sales meeting. Issue talking points and other information to managers at all levels of the organization in ways that are useful to them, such as tips for spotting a potential crisis and communicating it up the chain.

It’s far better to do a lot of little things on a regular basis than to try to cover all of it once a year. Or worse, to never get to it until you are faced with a real crisis.

Want to talk about crisis communications? Get in touch.

Posted in Content Development & Writing, Crisis & Issues Management, General, PR & Media Relations, Workplace Communications and tagged , , , , , , .