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Preparing for a PR Crisis Before It Occurs

In a public relations crisis situation, perceptions can quickly become reality. During a crisis, businesses are often judged based on the actions they take (or don’t take) AND how those actions are communicated to key target audiences quickly and effectively. All businesses are subject to a potential PR crisis and should prepare by developing a crisis communications plan before a crisis hits. Here are some key tips to consider when developing your crisis communications plan.

  1. Identify types of crisis that could occur – Identifying what crisis situations your company is most at risk for now will help you anticipate what experts you are most likely to need and what key audiences you are most likely to target during crisis. You can’t predict the future, but you can strategically identify areas of risk.
  2. Identify a company spokesperson – A crisis requires a public spokesperson who can convey integrity, honesty and expertise. If the explanation of a crisis situation requires an expert in a specific field, a company spokesperson like a CCO or president may be paired with a technical expert. Your company spokesperson should be identified and media trained now with quick refresher training when a crisis hits.
  3. Identifying clear roles & responsibilities – Are you the type to hide during a crisis or step up and take control? Clearly identifying a crisis management team coordinator and a crisis management team who agree to assume leadership roles when a crisis strikes is a priority. Your crisis management team coordinator is a critical cornerstone for all communication during the crisis and should be the first person alerted when the signs of a potential crisis are first seen. The crisis communication management team consists of your key experts and decision makers.
  4. Educate employees on media and social media policies – It’s important to lay the ground rules for employees prior to a crisis taking place. Take the time to write media and social media policies now instructing employees that they should not speak on behalf of the company to news media or on social media without prior permission. Even well-meaning employees have unwillingly spread misinformation during a crisis simply because they didn’t have all the facts.
  5. Identify your internal and external target audiences – When a crisis hits, what audiences are you required to communicate with either by law or to manage public opinion? Audiences include internal such as employees or board members, and external such as news media, government agencies, current clients, potential clients and other key stakeholders.

Drop us a line at [email protected] if you want to find out more about how to prepare your business for a crisis, or if you need help managing a crisis that’s caught you unprepared!