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Why all companies need a crisis comms plan in place

Part 2

Too many times, I’ve heard company CEOs say, “We don’t need to spend money on a crisis comms plan – we haven’t had a crisis in many years, why bother now? We’ll take on a crisis communications agency if we ever need one.”

The trouble is, by the time they do need one, it’s too late and the crisis is already taking hold, causing potential long-term damage to that company’s long built-up reputation that may take years to rebuild, or, at worst, wipe out the company completely.

It’s when things are running smoothly that brands should consider having a crisis plan in place to cover all eventualities. But what should such a plan involve?

Here are some of the basics:

  1. Consider the variables: what are the likely – and less likely – crisis scenarios your company could face? This provides the opportunity to tailor your crisis comms plan accordingly.
  2. Identify the team that would be in charge and the relevant approvals structure, e.g. who is responsible for managing which areas; signing off holding statements; speaking to the media, etc.?
  3. Identify official senior spokespeople and ensure they are fully media-trained. A nervous-sounding CEO who stumbles over their words will not inspire confidence in the media or public, so make sure the selected spokespeople are well prepared.
  4. Set up a process for notification and monitoring systems. This includes monitoring social media and the internet; speed is of the essence and real-time responses are vital.
  5. Identify your stakeholders to ensure they are kept in the loop.
  6. Conduct a post-crisis analysis to see what worked and what needs improvement, then update the crisis comms plan accordingly.

It’s very easy for a company to get it wrong when it comes to managing a crisis situation, but with forward planning, a clear strategy, and the right team structure in place, the process of managing a crisis need not become an issue in itself.


Sarah Longbottom is Director of Strategy & Planning at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |