Every organization is more than likely to run into some sort of crisis, what is most important is that they have to be prepared ahead of time. Practicing crisis communication is essential if an organization wants to overcome a crisis. It is important to keep our stakeholders in mind, and how much a crisis can not only affect the organization, but the stakeholders as well. Every organization should have a crisis communication team to make sure that the organization is always prepared.
The steps of effective crisis communication are not difficult, but they require work to be done in advanced in order to avoid conflict. The following is a list of the 10 steps of crisis communications:
1. Identify Your Crisis Communications Team: Identify a small team of senior executives that will serve as your organization’s Crisis Communications Team. This group needs to be familiar with the company information, and they need to be reliable in difficult situations such as a crisis. They have to be able to react at all times.
2. Identify Spokespersons: Within each team, there should be individuals that are able to speak on behalf of the organization during a crisis. The spokesperson is chosen once the crisis breaks, but the organization should have potential spokesperson ready and trained ahead of time. The spokesperson will be needed for media communications, including internal and external communications, on-camera, public meetings, employee meetings and etc.
3. Spokesperson Training: It is essential that the chosen spokesperson have professional training in public speaking and delivering key messages. Also, the spokesperson needs proper training on what messages they will convey, how to deliver the information and what voice and tone to use.
4. Establish Notification Systems: It is extremely important to establish notification systems before a crisis, which will allow the organization to quickly reach its stakeholders in multiple ways. There are numerous different notification systems such as phone calls, texting, social media, e-mail, audio and video call, and many more.
5. Identify and Know Your Stakeholders: Establish the internal and external stakeholders that matter to your organization. It is up to the organization to ensure that its stakeholders receive all the messages they need.
6. Anticipate Crises: If your organization is being proactive and preparing for a crisis ahead of time, gather your Crisis Communications team for brainstorming session to determine all the potential crisis’ that can occur at your organization.
7. Develop Holding Statements: Holding statements are messages that are designed to use immediately after a crisis breaks. These messages can be developed ahead of time that can be used in more than one situation.
8. Assess the Crisis Situation: Have the Crisis Communications Teams on the receiving end of information that is coming from your communications “tree.” This will ensure that the proper information is being provided so that the organization can continue with determining the proper response.
9. Identify Key Messages: With holding statement available at the beginning, the Crisis Communications Team needs to continue developing the crisis-specific messages that are required in any type of situation. The team knows what type of messages stakeholders are looking for. There should be no more than three main messages for all stakeholders.
10. Riding Out the Storm: No matter what the nature of a crisis, whether good news or bad news it is important to be prepared as much as possible. It is important to be prepared at all times, this is extremely important to your stakeholders!
As stated earlier, these effective crisis communication steps are not difficult, but they need planning in order to minimize damage. The slower the response, the more damage happens. Implement these 10 steps within you organization in order to help prepare ahead for a crisis.