Cuclis PR
PR Tip of the Month

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Cuclis PR
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Planning For a Crisis

It's not a matter of if your organization will experience a crisis, but when. In the January 2008 "PR Tip of the Month" I discussed the fundamentals of handling media interviews during a crisis. However, preferable communications management is to anticipate emergencies by writing a crisis communications plan. A plan prepares you to address scenarios that, if poorly handled, could lead to media relations disasters damaging your organization's reputation.

What is a Crisis

Anything that creates negative publicity strikes, employee layoffs, environmental disasters, product recalls, lawsuits, accidents, illegal activity by corporate officers, workplace violence, natural disasters. The list is endless.

Basic Elements Of a Crisis Communications Plan

What to include in your plan depends upon the nature, size and complexity of your organization. Below are common components of crisis communications plans.

  1. Anticipate crises: Determine what types of crises your organization most likely could experience.
  2. Create a detailed procedure for contacting whoever must be notified that a serious incident has occurred.
  3. Designate who will be on the crisis team and assign roles for each member, including who will be in charge and who the spokespersons will be.
  4. Create a detailed database of the contact information for everyone on the team and for everyone who needs to be notified when an incident occurs.
  5. Determine how members of the team will communicate and coordinate.
  6. Develop response strategies for each anticipated type of crises.
  7. Identify and prioritize key audiences and how you will reach them.
  8. Outline how messages will be developed and updated during a crisis. Draft potential initial messages.

Additional Resource for Information

Louisiana State University has an excellent outline of how to write a crisis communications plan.