Building A Crisis Communications Plan

If there’s one battle any company must prepare themselves to fight, it’s handling a public relations crisis. With social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - one small misstep can easily turn into a worldwide embarrassment. There is however a solution - call them your company’s “Avengers” whenever trouble arises. They are your official Crisis Communications Team. Building this crucial company component is more important than you may realize. The way in which you handle these situations can sometimes define your company. The ideal scenario would be having a team who can handle the crisis in a clear, safe, and concise manner. But what are the steps in setting up a Crisis Communications Team? Firstly, you must assign the roles of each member of the team as follows. Each team member should be assigned to the role that best fits their skill set. (Note - for smaller organizations you may have shared roles).

  • Team Leader - leads the team and reports to a senior communications officer.

  • Liaison Officer - liaises with professionals and engages with first responder & an external communication agency, consulting on the crisis.

  • First Responder - the first one onscene of the crisis to handle initial media needs.

  • Note Taker - takes notes of media calls, enabling a spokesperson to have a well-prepared response.

  • Action Logger - keeps track on which tasks were undertaken and at what time.

  • Social Media Professional - posts updates on social media channels and monitors conversations.

  • Website Publisher - keeps company website updated on the crisis.

  • Monitoring Agent - keeps track of what appears in print and online press.

  • Copywriter - writes press releases and other useful media copy.


When dealing with a crisis - remember the 4 C’s!

  • Clarity, know your role in a crisis situation, let there be no confusion

  • Consistency, no one changes their role, it must remain the same

  • Complete, never possess partial resources, it will send you into a desperate search of information

  • Current, all information for resources should be kept up to date, assigning someone for this role of ‘soft updates’ assures your team a better outcome.

Perhaps the most important part of being prepared is to have a Crisis Communications Manual in place. This is to be referred to during any crisis situation. While many share similarities in dynamics and strategies, it’s ultimately a good idea to spend time customizing your manual to fit your specific industry. Also, it is a good idea to go through the manual with your team acting out their assigned roles and handling the situation as if it were real.

For more crisis communications tips or to download your free crisis communication manual visit http://manzercommunications.com/crisiscomm-white-paper/ .