A crisis can strike a company at any time. Yet according to at least one recent survey, only 54% of companies have developed a crisis communication plan. And many of those may not have taken into consideration the delivery of critical communications as part of the plan.
The recovery industry identifies two needs for a crisis communication plan. The first is a disaster, or a sudden unplanned event that causes severe damage or loss. The other is considered a crisis, a critical event that, if not handled in an appropriate manner, can severely impact a company’s profitability, operational ability or reputation.
Examples of a disaster are easy to identify – a fire, flood, hurricane, storm damage, terrorism, etc. A crisis can be anything from a product recall, data breach, disgruntled customer, work stoppage or personnel issue in the public eye. One test to determine if it is indeed a crisis is to ask yourself, “Will the media take an interest in my problem?”
Without a sound crisis communications plan in place, the reputation of your business could be significantly impacted by the media, the public, or even an internal force. Being prepared to communicate the facts of a potentially negative situation in a controlled and truthful manner is the key difference between surviving a crisis or succumbing to it.
Planning, preparation and practice will minimize your exposure to negative media attention and allow your crisis team members to be prepared no matter the scenario. Virtually every business operations unit should be considered when developing your plan. However, the core team should include human resources, legal, public relations, operations, safety and IT. Your crisis communications plan should contain the following:
- Team member roles, responsibilities and contact information
- Public relations policy and procedures
- Procedures for communicating with the media (who will speak, what information will be shared)
- Prepared responses for potential crisis situations (based on your company’s risk assessment)
- Communication channels that define what communication methods will be utilized for internal and external communications
In many cases the focus of a crisis communication plan is to allow the facts to be communicated in the face of misinformation or rumor to protect a company’s reputation or brand. But a focus on business continuity that ensures the delivery of a company’s critical communications is equally important.
In the midst of a crisis, showing customers and shareholders that it is “business as normal” despite the situation gives all parties a sense of calm and confidence. Messages to your customers and the continued delivery of critical communications (such as statements and invoices) that keep your company operational and free from regulatory, compliance or customer confidence issues are at the heart of your Critical Communications Recovery Plan. Your critical communications recovery plan can also include the use of your recovery vendor’s operational capabilities to inform your customers (internal and external) of the steps you are taking to minimize damage and maintain operations despite the situation at hand.
If you have any questions about including critical communications recovery as part of a well-rounded crisis communication plan, send me a note and I’d be happy to discuss it further with you.
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