Developing a Crisis Communication Plan
1. Receive signed endorsement from leaders.
This includes an approved crisis management plan, signed and dated, which will provide accountability and save time once the crisis hits.
2. Establish staff roles and responsibilities.
Develop two teams: the Crisis Management Team and the Public Information Team.
- The Crisis Management team will direct the release of public information, coordinate with partners, advise leadership, organize official meetings, and maintain a response contact list.
- The Public Information Team will also advise leadership while testing messages for cultural appropriateness. This team is in charge of producing situation-specific media materials, and managing public information delivery including website and social media vehicles.
3. Information verification and clearance.
Evaluate who must review the information for final approval, including higher authorities. At least three people should evaluate: the director, a communication officer, and the subject-matter expert. This is on a need-to-know basis, versus want-to-know.
4. Media Relations
Build a media list, provide media training, produce media materials, and ensure all information is true and accurate.
5. Establish a Crisis Management Center.
Led by the Crisis Management Team.
Designate a physical or virtual space where all crisis-related activities are coordinated. It should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as necessary. This space requires internet, cellular phone service, and, in the case of a physical space, needs to have access to basic resources, including food and water.
6. Designate Spokespeople.
Name spokespeople and backups in the plan. It is important that the organization agrees and plans for personnel’s absence from other duties. All spokespeople should undergo media training.
7. Obtain contact information of all crisis team members.
This includes mobile and home phones; the mobile phones of a spouse, family member, or friend; email addresses; and social channels. It will be crucial information to have in the case of further emergency.
8. Predetermine communication channels.
These may include the organization’s website and social channels, news release services, press, a CRM system, and advertising platforms.
9. Include media monitoring services if necessary.
This includes Google alerts, regular scans, and commercial social media monitoring services.
10. Perform a crisis simulation.
It may be helpful to retain a crisis communication consultant to develop possible crisis scenarios. The consultant should conduct a simulation that addresses each step of the crisis plan. This will provide valuable feedback, assess any holes in the plan, and allow time for revisions and alterations if necessary.