Life is unpredictable; any type of crisis can hit your company, an explosion or a crash. Each enterprise must have a crisis-communication plan, alongside its crisis-management plan. The communication plan facilitates stakeholder communication during a crisis.
People can start speculating if not informed what is happening. Often speculations create a negative reputation. Be the first to communicate a crisis, do so by planning ahead. Scan your environment, then forecast the worst that can happen. Keep your plan simple and update it annually.
Here are some pointers on a crisis-communication plan.
1. Define a crisis
Establish what could be a crisis for you. Each enterprise has different features; your uniqueness will determine what is deemed a crisis.
Crisis differs in levels of intensity, and the size of your enterprise will also play a role. For example, say you are a light fitting company, braking thirty globes, might be or not be a crisis, depending on your company size.
On the other hand; should a truck transporting thirty thousand of your stock be in an accident, this would definitely be a crisis.
2. Identify state authorities, agencies, and other entities to communicate with
Let’s continue with the truck accident. Think, who are the relevant parties that can assist or are concerned? Draw a list, which may include traffic officials, paramedics or hospital, the media might want to cover. Employees and their next of kin should form part of the list.
Create a professional relationship with all identified parties. Keep contact and updated as people change positions. These people will assist with communicating or will be communicated to.
3. Identify how you will communicate internally and externally
Consider each stakeholder’s unique characters when choosing communication methods. It can be the telephone, SMS, emails, social or traditional media. Your methods must allow you to update stakeholders ASAP as the accident develops.
4. Who will communicate?
Appoint a designated spokesperson. This person must be informed about the company’s current affairs. They should be well-spoken and comfortable with media attention. Assign a back-up spokesperson with similar qualities as the spokesperson.
Identify individual to communicate using other chose communication methods. The communication team should collaborate with the technical team for support and expect advice.
5. Draft the message
Draft a handy first press release, include what occurred, when, the place the incident occurred, the source and victims, if any. Mention that more details will follow.
Prepare to answer difficult questions; however, you should plan to provide detailed information before questioned. Your message should be clear, don’t hide or appear as though you are hiding details.
Not knowing is not a crime, should you not have answers tell your audience, then provide it at a later stage.
Related: How To ‘Crisis-Proof’ your Company
6. Create a crisis decision-making checklist
A checklist includes stages of crisis communication. What to do, when and the names and contacts of all responsible parties. It ensures that all stakeholders are communicated to, and protocol is followed.