Crisis Communications

There is one critical thing to remember about a crisis: It CAN happen here! And, if it happens, you need to have steps in place to respond to it and keep your organization going. There are three major steps in responding to a crisis: 1) gather all the information you can about the crisis and double check it; 2) communicate what is happening to all stakeholders (don't forget employees); and 3) monitor media and online stories to make sure information is correct; if it isn't, do what you can to correct it. This week's articles can help you prepare a crisis response plan and to figure out what role social media can have in that plan.

This sample Crisis Communication Plan can help you draft yours. (Item #1)   It's how you handle a crisis with the media that will likely determine whether that crisis builds or seriously damages your company. (Item #2)   Good news travels fast online, but bad news travels faster. (Item #3)  

Can there be a balance between a business's need for quality formal communications in a crisis situation -- and the personal, informal nature of blogging? (Item #4)   When should a company use social networking or resume its social networking activities post-crisis? (Item #5)   What can you learn from the John Edwards scandal? (Item #6)  

As always, we look forward to hearing your comments & insights regarding business continuity. If you have a topic you'd like us to cover, email me at [email protected].

Bob Mellinger, President
Attainium Corp

1. Crisis Communication Plan: A PR Blue Print

This crisis communication plan will outline a generic, basic crisis communication plan. To apply it to your situation you may need to adjust some things and add your own information. It is not intended to answer all questions or fill all needs it is just a basic outline of options you might consider if and when you are in the midst of a crisis and need help.

2. Seven Must-have Elements in Every Crisis Communications Kit

It is vital that you develop a crisis communications and management plan that prepares you in advance for this eventuality. In preparing this plan, keep in mind that this crisis may allow you to continue business as normal, or it may result in a situation where you aren't able to get access to the tools you normally use to do your job (natural disaster, lockout, etc.) so your crisis communications kit needs to provide the capability for you to provide the appearance of normality even in the most abnormal situations.

3. Crisis Communications for the Social Media Age

Now, with social networks, blogs and microblogs, the speed with which bad news can travel online is staggering, as everyone can get in on the conversation almost instantly. What can any of us - individuals, organizations and companies - do to handle a social media communications crisis?

4. The Blog's New Role in Crisis Communications

In crisis communications, your goals are going to be to maintain a positive image of the company, to present timely information, and to remain accessible. The standard approach to responding to a crisis is to hunker down behind closed doors. Blogs can help companies remain accessible. You also want to monitor communications channels to catch misinformation early. Ultimately, you want to survive the crisis.

5. Avert "Crisis Communications" by Planning Ahead

The upside of social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are their ready-made infrastructures that enable companies, causes and individuals to quickly bring positive messages to market. Yet, similar to computer hackers, there are unsavory individuals who monitor these networks - as well as other streams of information - and use social networking to bring industry giants to their knees and send smaller companies running for cover.

6. Crisis Communication Gone Wrong:

The John Edwards Lesson Of Career Implosion - And What You Can Learn From It
Aren't we now just too jaded, too sophisticated, to let a mere sexual dalliance destroy a political career? Not when you've done as poor a job of crisis communications as John Edwards has in the wake of this scandal. If there was any hope of him rising from these ashes, I'll submit Edwards himself has ended it. So what are the lessons John Edwards failed to learn?

Quote of the Week:

"90 percent of a crisis response is communications."
-- Barbara Reynolds
Center for Disease Control

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Attainium Corp
15110 Gaffney Circle
Gainesville, VA 20155