When was the last time something unexpected happened to you? If you’re sitting in the leadership seat of a for-profit company, a nonprofit or even a volunteer organization and you haven’t been hit with a crisis that threatened your brand or reputation, consider yourself lucky … and overdue.
The truth is, a crisis can take place in any organization at any time. Whether it’s a crime or security issue; allegations of harassment or misconduct; an employee injury or death; demonstrations; or just the rumor mill starting trouble with inaccuracies, a crisis can result from any unexpected event and can quickly place your organization’s brand and/or reputation at risk.
As experts who routinely prepare and guide our clients through the unexpected, we get a lot of questions about WHY it’s important to prepare a crisis communications plan before a crisis hits and HOW to get a strategic plan in place.
On Wednesday, March 28, from 4 to 6 p.m., our public relations director, Natonia Samchuck, will join the attorneys of Brubaker Connaughton Goss & Lucarelli LLC (BCGL) for an Enterprise Institute event focused on answering your questions about crisis communications and providing you with insights into the actions you can take now to protect your organization. Find out more and register for this free event here!
Misconceptions about what a crisis communications plan is and why it’s needed are common. In advance of this upcoming event, we’re sharing the top five lies you should never believe about crisis communications:
- A crisis is unexpected so there is no way to prepare for them in advance.
Although we can’t predict the future, it is possible to evaluate the most likely crisis scenarios that could take place and then plan for them. In addition, a crisis communications plan puts key, strategic elements in place such as your crisis management team, key spokesperson, media policies and much more. These key elements are critical tools that will be used during any crisis – even a completely unexpected one.
- If I prepare now, my employees are going to panic and think something is wrong.
Communicated appropriately, a crisis communications plan and training can give your employees confidence knowing that if a crisis takes place, there is a plan in place to protect the organization. In addition, employees are a very important audience in a crisis communications plan. Your plan is a benefit to all employees as it assures that during a crisis, they will be appropriately communicated with and provided the support needed from the organization they serve.
- Employee injury or death?! It’s heartless to prepare for such tragedies!
Hope for the best and plan for the worst. An employee being harmed or even killed is an absolute tragedy that we hope your organization never has to face; however, many organizations are high risk for this type of crisis impacting them. In these situations, your crisis communications will give you a plan of action and identify key decision makers so that you can quickly respond to the needs of any families, employees, board members or volunteers impacted. Preplanning allows you to better serve your people in great times of need. It allows you to be a leader when your people need it the most.
- If a crisis hits, we’ll have plenty of time to develop a plan.
During a crisis, things can quickly escalate out of control if they are not promptly and efficiently handled. The middle of a crisis is not the ideal time to be developing a plan, training staff or setting new policies. A crisis management team should be carefully selected in advance and trusted to make big decisions fast when the worst becomes reality. Planning in advance allows you to better control your messaging, disseminate critical information to your key audiences and respond to media requests in a timely manner.
- A crisis communications plan is just a way to spin the truth. Public relations hoopla!
Public relations is the strategic communication of critical messages to various publics including internal (such as employees) and external (such as members of the community or news media). Strong public relations efforts may control messaging to help ensure your accuracy or help you to achieve a goal, but it should not use false information. The goal of a crisis communications plan is to ensure accurate and timely information is provided to the key audiences who need to receive it. Plain and simple, no hoopla needed.
Want to learn more? Join us March 28.
Crisis communications planning is an important safeguard for any organization. If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic and learning key takeaways such as what elements should be included in your crisis communications plan, the role your legal team should play during a crisis, the communications lifecycle of a crisis, and more, you can catch our public relations director, Natonia Samchuck, at the BCGL Enterprise Institute VII on Wednesday, March 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. Find out more and register for this free event here!