CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS – THE FIVE STEP PLAN
As we find ourselves in uncharted territory, with the continuing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, it's paramount to be proactive and communicate with your stakeholders, as early and as clearly as possible.
Halo have developed a 5 step guide to developing a crisis communications plan to help you and your business.
What is a crisis communications plan and why does my business need it?
A crisis communications plan outlines a company’s strategy to respond quickly to a crisis with clarity. All businesses should have a crisis communications plan in place, ahead of time, and be ready to activate it when necessary.
FIVE STEPS TO CREATE A CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
Identify potential internal and external threats to your business so a plan can be prepared in advance, should they arise.
2/ Assign your crisis communications team
Develop a checklist of tasks and responsibilities for each member of the team. This should include who will brief employees, monitor and liaise with guests/customers/media and who will monitor news alerts, media updates and social channels.
During a crisis situation, spokespersons should be limited to a minimum, to avoid confusion and possible contradictions. It is recommended that the CEO or General Manager takes on the role of spokesperson, plus a PR professional, in most cases.
3/ Stakeholder engagement
Every group which may be affected by the crisis must be communicated to through clear statements, to protect their best interests.
4/ Develop statements
Gather facts to understand the situation as clearly as possible. Statements should only communicate factual information, which has been reviewed and approved by the CEO, General Manager and or legal advisor, where appropriate.
In a situation such as the COVID-19 outbreak, guests/customers are likely to have questions. Ensure employees are equipped with talking points to reassure guests. The message should be transparent and consistent across the business, not leaving any comment open to interpretation.
As the situation unfolds, act quickly to brief employees and stakeholders (including guests) first, followed by your larger audience and the media.
Keep monitoring the situation and update and refine statements as necessary.
5/ Post-crisis analysis
A debrief is essential to learn from the experience and adjust any future crisis communications plans.