We are often asked advice about our rules of communications during a crisis. It is best if organizations think about crises before they hit. Be assured, a little bit of preparation will pay off ten-fold. So, here’re 10 rules CG&A COMMUNICATIONS promotes to assist with crisis management:
- Write it down! Before a crisis occurs, draw up and distribute a comprehensive crisis communications plan. Always have a plan on paper.
- Know who will speak. Designate a small list of possible spokespersons and ensure they have training to give media interviews. The objective in responding during a crisis is to have a single voice, not a chorus.
- Organize yourself. Establish internal communications lines to ensure fast, accurate information when a crisis does occur. Prepare a list of inside and outside people to inform of a crisis. And, ensure all employees know where to direct media inquiries.
- Make good first impression. When the issue breaks, there must be an immediate meeting with senior management to determine the stance to take with the public. You have two critical hours to effectively respond. Your challenge is to define the issue accurately, deploy constantly changing tactics, and anticipate reactions.
- Prepare for media. Spend time briefing designated spokesperson(s) and ensure message lines are tight and clear.
- Be pro-active. Get out in front of the issue/event and make a public statement. No comment is no response and silence is anything but golden.
- Keep everyone in-the-know. Remember to keep your own house informed. Distribute statement to staff and other key people.
- Keep the channel(s) to media open. The media must know who the spokespersons are. An inquiry number should be made available to send and receive messages. In a crisis, it is essential that you are honest, accessible, and forthcoming.
- Always stay ahead of the issue. If the crisis is on-going, release periodic statements or hold periodic media briefings/news conferences.
- Never follow a list of ten golden rules. Each crisis is unique and requires special tactics to ensure the issues are dealt with effectively. Do not limit your options in answering to your crisis. A creative, pro-active plan is your best offense.
(ed. – This is a repost from a popular By George Journal article from a few years ago.)