plan ahead to make 2015 a crisis-free year

Plan Your Crisis Communication

The New Year gives us all the opportunity to reflect on what we have done and how we would like to change for the better. Most of us make New Year’s resolutions to improve ourselves in preparation for a new and exciting year. This year, let’s consider a resolution for our business or professional life. One of the most important factors of PR for individuals and businesses is crisis management. With a 24/7 news cycle and more social media access than ever before, a crisis is able to spread quickly no matter the time or place, which makes crisis preparation and management more important than ever.

With the dawning of a new year, let’s make a resolution to be prepared for whatever risks or threats the future holds.

Start Planning Ahead Today!

  1. Conduct a SWOT analysis to determine your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A crisis management plan should be developed in accordance with the risks perceived and the best plans of action to take. Having a plan in place will enable your business to restore order, prevent further damage and regain control of the situation after a crisis occurs. Once the latter is achieved, the key individuals who have the expertise and skills, whether internal or external to the organization, will help in the recovery process.
  2. Identify a company spokesperson. Select an individual who will be designated to establish contact with the press if a crisis occurs. He or she should possess all necessary information, should be close to senior management, a strong communicator and confident.
  3. Put a crisis management team together. Each member is listed according to the critical scenarios or tasks to which he/she is assigned. These individuals should be selected based on their expertise and track records in handling similar if not the same crisis situation that they are being tasked to handle.
  4. Create a Secure IT, Communications and Sharing System. With a large amount of communication happening online, cyber security is especially important. Along with the right security measures for sharing information, you should also consider the security of your social media. As we saw throughout 2014, social media can spread crisis-causing information around the world quickly. The key to great crisis management is knowing how you and your team will need to respond before a crisis occurs.
    • Talk to your IT department or an outside security company about any vulnerabilities in your network and how they can be resolved.
    • Be careful about what you upload to cloud storage. As we saw with several celebrities, content online can be accessed and shared, so think twice before you store anything confidential or of high importance online.
    • Update your social media security. Two simple ways to help make your social media more secure are: (1) create passwords with assorted letters, numbers and symbols; and change your passwords frequently. Social media is a strong communication tool that acts as an all-access pass to your audiences. Make social media security a top priority.
  5. Know Your Communication and Customer Service Policies. If you have multiple employees who communicate directly with customers or your target audiences, you should have communication and customer service policies in place. These policies will help your employees know their responsibilities and how to resolve an issue before it becomes a crisis.
    • Communication policies can include everything from what employees can post online to standards of communication with customers. Remember that your employees can be your greatest brand advocates. Providing them with a clear communication policy can help set standards of business communication throughout all communication channels.
    • Customer service can make or break a business. Similar to communication policies, customer service policies provide a set of guidelines and standards for interacting with customers or your target audience. Great customer service whether through social media, email or in person creates goodwill and hopefully positive word-of-mouth.
  6. Test your Crisis Plan. Get your crisis management team together and test your crisis plan by creating a crisis scenario. A run through of your crisis plan can show you where vulnerabilities are and how to address them.
    • Test your crisis management team. Are they ready for a real crisis or do they need additional training? If your team doesn’t react to the crisis fast enough, you could be too late to properly respond.
    • Once your crisis scenario is complete, meet with your crisis team and discuss improvements to the plan.

Once you’ve developed a crisis management plan, continue to improve it. A little preparation today can help you eliminate crisis threats and make your response timely and focused. If you don’t have a crisis management plan in place, Debbie Goetz Media Connections can help you create one.

Featured image courtesy of www.quorum-pr.com.