To quote Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
The good news for leaders of companies and organizations is that they can prepare for the public relations punch that often accompanies a crisis. While we can’t ever know when a crisis will strike (or exactly what form it will take), you can prepare by developing a comprehensive communications plan to bolster your overall incident response plan.
Whether it’s a natural disaster, indicted CEO, cybersecurity breach, or one of 50 other potential crises, many parties will need to hear from you immediately. You shouldn’t be frantically piecing together internal (speaking to employees, vendors, board of directors, etc.) and external communications while also dealing with the crisis itself. When the unexpected happens, prompt and effective communications with stakeholders can provide much-needed reassurance and help mitigate reputational damage.
A Crisis Communications Plan Serves 3 Critical Purposes
- Reputation Management
In today’s digital age, information spreads quickly, and it is essential that companies control the narrative and provide accurate and timely information to stakeholders and the public (through the media). A comprehensive crisis communications plan that includes a social media component helps to ensure that you disseminate the right information to the right people at the right time.
- Fiscal Impact Mitigation
Public companies that are unprepared for a crisis and handle communications about it poorly often see a significant drop in their stock price. Privately held companies risk the loss of customers and revenue. Even nonprofits face the very real prospect of losing credibility, donors, and public funding. Having a plan in place enables these entities to communicate effectively and act swiftly to minimize the potential financial impact.
- Regulatory Compliance
Many industries, like healthcare and finance, have specific procedures that must be followed in the event of a crisis. A crisis communications plan can help a company or organization ensure that they comply with the relevant regulations and avoid any legal consequence of failing to do so.
- Reputation Management
The Typical Crisis Communications Plan Includes:
- Internal contact list and chain of command
- Identification of your crisis communications team
- Escalation protocol for communication in response to inquiries from the media and public
- Holding statements, talking points, and communications pathways for a variety of potential crises
Enlisting the help of an experienced crisis communications firm like Kessler PR Group can help ensure that you are prepared if (or when) your time comes to get punched in the mouth.