Friday, February 20, 2009

Crisis Communication Quick Guide

Today I promised some tips on crisis communication.  In my past life I created a crisis communication plan that either helped stop a crisis before it happened, or helped keep me organized and on task if we did have to deal with an issue.  

Below is a ten step "quick" process that might help if you find yourself in a communication crisis situation:
  1. Involve the Communications Department as soon as crisis situation become evident.
  2. Gather facts and evaluation situation.
  3. Assemble crisis team* (crisis team is a handful a key leaders all with responsibilities when handling crisis situation).
  4. Create message, tone, strategy and plan, and assign one spokesperson - direct every inquiry to the designated spokesperson.  No one else should talk to the media.
  5. Communicate situation and initial facts to staff, board and supporters.
  6. Prepare media briefing - solidify where to hold briefing, draft opening statement, prepare answers to anticipated questions and decide on topics that will NOT be discussed, draft press release.
  7. Hold media briefing with spokesperson.
  8. Monitor situation.
  9. Keep open communication with staff, board and supporters.
  10. Update media as needed.
Also important to remember these four tips:
  1. Get it right - communicate correct information and never speculate.
  2. Get it quick - communicate promptly to your staff, board, supporters and media
  3. Get it out - communicate organization's messages at all times.
  4. Get it over with - resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
Most importantly, stay calm.  Keep the media updated.  It's better for them to hear the information from you (good or bad) rather than from someone else.

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