“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” ~Henry Kissinger
The very definition of crisis means something unplanned. Crisis communication is the scary part of public relations and communications. It’s chaotic. You don’t know all the details. People might be scared. And others want answers.
I recently attended two sessions that have focused on crisis communication. They each focused on different aspects but there were three common concepts that seemed to keep appearing.
Acknowledge immediately and regularly. This is crucial. We used to have a couple of hours to respond, but not anymore. Social media has shrunk that time to 20 minutes or less. And time constraints will continue to shrink. Your organization needs to be on the proactive side of this, not the reactive. The last thing you want to happen is rumors and misinformation flooding social media and the news.
Build bridges through relationships and through information.
Relationships: Hopefully you already have the bridges built to media professionals, city officials and other community leaders. Have you built those bridges to your neighbors? Your tenants? Your members? Even your competitors can step forward in a crisis.
Information: This is simply bridging information together. This works well when using social media. Here’s how it works: You post the latest information on Twitter or Facebook. Your next posts should either repeat the information (if there’s nothing new to say) or add new information to what is already known. The idea is that if the public were to scroll through your streams, they would have a good idea of what is happening, and how you are responding.
Review your plan.
Sounds like a no brainer, but when was the last time your plan was revised? Do the people listed on your crisis team still work there? Do you have templates already made up for all the scenarios? Most likely you have messaging about a weather disaster, a robbery and maybe even an internal embezzlement act. What about a possible data breach? Think of all the events that could be considered a disaster and draft talking points now.