Crisis Averted: Developing a Good Crisis Communication Plan
This post comes from INK alumna Rachael Genson.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy asked newscaster Edward Murrow to join his administration as the Head of the US Information Agency. The newscaster’s response – “If you want me to be there on the crash-landings, I better be there on the takeoff.” Murrow raised a great point and one that guided PRSA Austin’s Monthly Luncheon yesterday afternoon – A good crisis communication plan needs to be developed at the get-go, not in the midst of a crisis situation.
The hour was spent listening to panelists Russ Rhea of Hahn, Texas and Sarah Russ from Phillips & Company present case studies on individual client crisis situations and give detailed explanations on what constitutes a good crisis communication strategy. Of everything that Sarah and Russ discussed during their panel, the following three points are the ones INK thinks most valuable for any client facing a crisis:
– At the center of every good crisis communications plan is a strong company spokesperson. Make sure that you select someone who can convey your company’s messages with confidence and will appear both open and empathetic to your audience (and be sure that the selected spokesperson receives regular media training to prepare for any last-minute situation).
– Communication is critical during a crisis. Even if you do not have all the answers, it is important to let people know that you will keep them informed, as the information is available. Remember, your audiences will get their information from somewhere – it’s better coming from you.
– Whether in crisis mode or not, always be honest and transparent with your communications plan. Having an existing reputation as an honest company will give the public more trust in your ability to handle a crisis.
In my experience, I’ve seen that every company faces a crisis at sometime (although some are bigger than others). Rather than thinking it will never happen to you, expecting a crisis and preparing for every situation will help minimize the damage if and when that time comes.