Communication is not only vital in the day-to-day operations of a company; it even becomes more critical during an emergency. An oil spill, a workers’ strike, and a terrorist attack can all have an impact not only on the operations of a firm but its reputation, too. It is thus important for the PR head or consultant of the company to have a crisis communication plan that can be implemented anytime something disastrous happens.
While there are many communication templates that one can find online, a crisis communication plan is different because it is something that may not be executed or implemented at all during a company’s lifetime. A crisis PR campaign won’t be launched at all until something unfortunate happens to a firm.
This unique trait, however, can put most corporate communicators into a state of complacency as they would not even think of coming up with a crisis PR plan. The problem is that when a crisis hits the company they’re working for; they are caught clueless on how to minimize the damage of the issue on the company’s reputation.
The following are some of the more integral parts of a crisis communication program:
The Crisis Communication Team
As you would see in many crisis communication templates, the formation of a crisis communication team is vital during an emergency.
This team is in important in identifying the various actions that the company will take during a crisis. It is composed of key officials of the company—the President, the PR head, and the chief legal counsel. In most cases, the most senior officer from the unit or division that was involved in the emergency is also brought in.
This team will be in charge of coming up a plan of action, and will assign the company’s spokesperson. While the PR head is the most logical choice, it is not uncommon for the president or even the chief legal counsel to be tapped for the role.
Designated company spokesperson
The spokesperson will be the face of the company during the crisis. He or she will make official statements, and respond to questions from the media throughout the crisis.
The spokesperson should be skilled in dealing with the media, particularly in facing the TV cameras. He/she should be able to speak without the use of jargons, and can project qualities of being sincere, straightforward, and believable. The spokesperson must also be able to remain calm especially in stressful situations.
The company should have a place that can be used by the media covering the emergency. This is also where interviews and media briefings can be conducted until the resolution of the emergency.
Crisis communication templates may not indicate that media members have the right to interview anyone they want. They can interview grieving family members of employees who have been hurt by an explosion in a factory, for example. Members of the crisis communication team should not discourage the press from getting every side of the story.
All members of the media should be treated the same. What is given to one press member should be given to the other as well.
Prepared statements form part of the company’s first news release about the emergency. It also serves as the general response to the media once they have learned of the emergency.
It informs the media of the type, location, and time of the emergency or crisis. It also assures them that the incident is being investigated, and that more information will be given as soon as it is available.
Having a crisis communication plan is a must for any business. Neophyte corporate communicators should look for crisis communication templates, or design their own as this would come in handy during an actual emergency.