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Crisis? What crisis? Be PR prepared with a crisis management strategy

Crisis management planHow do you manage a crisis from a communication point of view?  You may not be BP or in charge of the NUT, but for a small business owner, negative publicity can seem like the end of the world.  With the speed of modern communication, there is no doubt that the best way any organisation can handle a crisis is to be prepared.  A crisis management plan is essential.

How to develop a crisis management strategy

With a crisis strategy in place, you will know that you can direct the right information to the right people as quickly as possible, minimising the risk of misinformation and helping damage limitation.  Follow the steps below to develop your action plan; make sure everyone knows what this plan contains and remember to keep it updated.

  1. Identify all potential crises that might arise:  you will probably be aware of crises that could affect your business.  What you need to do now is re-evaluate these issues from a communications perspective.
  1. Consider all communications options to reach your publics:  list the audiences that would be affected by the crises.  The effect on each audience should be considered, an appropriate response drafted and the most suitable channels of communication identified.  This will require you to prepare ‘holding’ statements, ‘Q&A’ documents and skeleton press releases for each crisis and each audience.
  1. Evaluate the support, resources and personnel you will need:  create a list of everyone authorised to speak on behalf of the company in the event of a crisis, they should be able to field questions in an intelligent and calm manner. Collate corporate data and pictures in advance.
  1. Set up crisis management rooms and necessary facilities (if applicable):  if you’re a small business, make sure you know where you filed the crisis management information!
  1. Agree training and crisis simulations for key personnel:  make sure the theory can be put into practice.  A simulation can help identify weak links and don’t forget to test the social media component.
  1. Draw up an Incident Media Management Process:  this should list everything that needs to be done, and by whom, within the first hour, second hour, etc.

Be as detailed in your planning as you need to be, but be adaptable.  And remember, every crisis is an opportunity if approached in the right way.

 

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