Crisis Communication

A rumor that the CEO is ill pulls down the stock price. A plant explosion kills several workers and requires evacuating residents on several surrounding city blocks. Risk management seeks to address these many risks, including prevention as well as liability, but emergency and crisis situations happen nevertheless. In addition, people make errors in judgment that can damage the public perception of a company. The mainstream media does not lack stories involving infidelity, addiction, or abuse that require a clear a response from a company’s standpoint. It’s possible that as a professional, you will need to communicate in a crisis situation.

Focus on key types of information during an emergency:

  • What is happening?
  • Is anyone in danger?
  • How big is the problem?
  • Who reported the problem?
  • Where is the problem?
  • Has a response started?
  • What resources are on-scene?
  • Who is responding so far?
  • Is everyone’s location known?

You will be receiving information from the moment you know a crisis has occurred, but without a framework or communication plan to guide you, valuable information may be ignored or lost. These questions help you quickly focus on the basics of “who, what, and where” in the crisis situation.

Developing Your Crisis Communication Plan

A crisis communication plan is the prepared scenario document that organizes information into responsibilities and lines of communication prior to an event. With a plan in place, if an emergency arises, each person knows his or her role and responsibilities from a common reference document. Overall effectiveness can be enhanced with a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities for an effective and swift response.

The plan should include four elements:

  1. Crisis communication team members with contact information
  2. Designated spokesperson
  3. Meeting place/location
  4. Media plan with procedures