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Preventing a Crisis in Crisis Communications

June 29, 2009

If you are not currently in crisis communications mode, congratulations and this message is for you.  This is the perfect time and the only time to prevent a crisis in your crisis communications, because once you are in it, it is too late.  Here are things to do right now to make sure you can successfully communicate during a crisis: 

  1. Develop a Twitter and web strategy within your plan, making sure it is aligned to your overall communications strategy.  Public Service of NH used Twitter successfully during a 2008 ice storm (@psnh).
  2. Update your media list, paying special attention to television and radio.  Make sure the critical reporters and outlets (the ones who will show up first in an event) are highlighted.  Don’t forget to note deadlines, website addresses, e-mail addresses, Twitter accounts, and editor/producer information.
  3. Insist on crisis communications training for leadership.  Even if they have been trained before, refresher courses should be held at three-year intervals maximum.  At the very least, conduct videotaped mock interviews to help keep on-air skills sharp.
  4. Brief staff and security personnel on communications policies and protocol and make sure they have phone scripts and contact information, in the event they are contacted directly by the media or public.
  5. Call the reporters now to introduce yourself (or re-introduce yourself) and be upfront that you are performing regular maintenance on your crisis communications plan.  Explain your process to them and invite their questions. Getting their buy-in now will prevent unrealistic expectations on their part later.  This is a great way to nurture your media relationships.

For every failed crisis communication, there is a communications manager wishing that she or he had taken the time to become prepared.  Don’t become one of them.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2009 11:43 am

    Some very valuable tactics, but think it’s putting the cart before the horse. Too often, companies and organizations aren’t anticipating the worst that could happen and plan accordingly.

    • rungster permalink*
      July 8, 2009 9:38 pm

      Mike, companies that prepare for a potential crisis (including the communications accompanying it), fare far better than those that don’t. If a company waits for a crisis before they address how to manage its communications, it’s like shutting the barn door once the horse is already out.

  2. July 9, 2009 6:47 pm

    Agreed. Too many of them caught caught sleep when they should have been prepared in advance.

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