How to Create a Crisis Communications Plan

"Fail to prepare and prepare to fail" is an adage that those in the Crisis Communications industry know are all too familiar with. 

How an organisation responds or fails to respond can make or break a carefully developed reputation. A crisis communication plan is a critical element of effective crisis management. Its role is to help ensure the continued operational effectiveness of an organisation during and after a significant incident, provide guidance and reassurance to those affected, and safeguard the organisation's reputation.

A Crisis Communications plan should sit at the heart of every business - whether in the oil, gas and energy industry, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, or fast fashion. The importance and value of an effective and well-prepared crisis communication plan cannot be overstated.

So What is a Crisis Communication Plan?

Our Crisis Management training courses provide you with the tactics and insights to help your organisation respond to a crisis and ultimately define how they come out the other side.

However, a crisis communication plan serves as a step-by-step manual for employees to follow should they face a developing issue or crisis. 

Crisis communication plans focus on the company's response and how it will communicate a crisis to its stakeholders. These steps ensure information reaches employees, partners, customers, media, the general public, and valuable stakeholders.

If a crisis occurs, it's essential to know how to respond from communication and operational standpoint to prevent your reputation from being harmed and avoid long-term damage to the brand.

To get you started, we've created a step by step guide to developing the fundamentals of a Crisis Communication plan. Read on for more information!

Step 1: Establish the Potential Risks

Thinking about what the "worst-case scenario" might look like across different lines of the business is an excellent place to start.

For example, if you work in food processing, contaminated produce can lead to product recalls and loss of trust in your products. If you are a bank or retain customer information, a data breach that exposes sensitive information is highly damaging if customers are not alerted promptly.

It's essential you war-game the potential risks your business faces and create a plan that accurately reflects your response.

Step 2: Refine Your Incident Escalation Process

Once you know your red, amber and green-level crises, the next stage is to create an escalation process. One way to do this is to make a visual flow chart, showing from the outset of the incident who you need to inform and what needs to be asked. 

Having a straightforward, easy-to-follow escalation process will enable anyone familiar with the crisis manual or not to follow a company-wide agreed procedure to collate information, inform the right people and respond in a unified manner.

Step 3: Simple, Straightforward and to the point

The last thing you need when a crisis emerges is a 100-page document that is dense, jargon-heavy and out of date.

Ensure your crisis communication plan is easily accessible and updated regularly. Keep things concise and don't have confusing instructions that lead to conflicting actions.

Next Steps in Crisis Communication Planning

Each organisation and institution will require a bespoke crisis communications plan. However, you can still utilise some of the practices in your plan. Doing so will ensure you move quickly and attentively and avoid missing crucial information should a crisis emerge.

If you found this helpful information, and are interested in learning more about Crisis Communications, contact us today to learn about our certified and accredited Crisis Communication courses.