Crisis Communication Plan for Businesses

crisis communication plan for businesses

A crisis can occur when you least expect it – and the best way to address an unexpected crisis is to prepare your business or organization ahead of time.

Having a crisis communication plan will not only give business owners and organizations peace of mind during difficult times, but it can also be a determining factor in keeping their heads above water in a time when many businesses will sink.

What is Crisis Communication?

Crisis communication is defined as the protocols and systems that guide and allow organizations to communicate during a threat to their business.

A crisis communication plan is designed to provide guidelines for helping employees overcome challenges during a business crisis and provide clear instructions for those managing communications.

Why is Having a Crisis Communication Plan so Important? 

Developing a crisis communication plan is incredibly important for businesses of any size, whether it be a personal reputation crisis plan for an entrepreneur, or a Fortune 500 company.

A crisis can strike at any time. Organizations must be prepared to respond to a wide range of potential crises that could affect their business.

How you respond to a crisis can truly make a world’s difference in the awareness and integrity of your brand, and its reputation.

Creating a Crisis Communication Plan

Whether you want to create a crisis communication plan from scratch or update an existing plan, there are a few important details to include. 

Here are the elements needed to put together a crisis communication plan.

Anticipate crises that could happen

A business can experience several types of crises. A great starting point when creating detailed scenario plans. This will help identify the types of crises that could most likely occur. 

There are several types of business crises to include in your communication plan:

  1. Financial – companies or organizations experience a crisis specifically about money or revenue. Examples include debt, bankruptcy, or a general lack of funds to pay off loans, dividends or payroll.
  2. Personnel – this crisis type pertains to an employee or external, individual or partner associated. Common examples include workplace misconduct, harassment or violence, a disgruntled employee (or former employee), or corporate espionage.
  3. Social Media – typically includes misuse of social media by corporate accounts, or an employee’s personal account. A few examples could be misused hashtags, or posts in bad taste in light of recent happenings or events.
  4. Technology – issues or crises created resulting from technology or automation. For instance, email breaches, software mistakes, etc.
  5. Natural Disasters – These crises affect businesses in the form of power outages, and business continuity. Most common examples include snow storms, hurricanes, or heat waves. 

Outline objectives

Define the goals you wish from your crisis communication plan. Outlining your objectives provide a clear direction for your organization as you create the plan in detail. Begin by creating a high-level statement of what your plan should achieve with your plan. 

Determine your audience(s)

A crisis communication plan should target how you communicate with specific audiences, whether directly or indirectly impacted by a crisis.

Determine who will you prioritize communication

In times of crisis, timing is everything. The importance of clearly relaying up-to-date information to the right audience.

Prioritizing who will receive information in a crisis is a big part of your crisis communication plan. 

  • Determine who is directly versus indirectly affected by a crisis.
  • Determine which audiences affect your business’s bottom line. 
crisis communication plan checklist

Choose the best channels or methods to reach audience

For internal stakeholders, including employees, email is the best method. 

Members of your team can include:

  • Employees
  • Leadership and c-suite
  • IT team
  • Public relations team
  • Security personnel

Email should be detailed, address the crisis, the state of the business. You may want to create separate emails to communicate different messages to separate internal audience members. 

For external stakeholders, including customers and media outlets, social media and public relations are ideal mediums for communication during a crisis.

5 Key Tips for Effective Crisis Communication

Effective communication during a crisis can minimize the long-term negative effects of your business and its reputation. When you need to execute your plan, here are 3 key tips to follow:

Review the plan beforehand

Being proactive starts with reviewing the crisis communication plan with those that need to know. Make sure organizational leaders know the crisis communication plan, and have access to it when a crisis occurs.

Be transparent

Do not hide information. It’s generally better to be upfront and transparent than plead ignorance or stonewall audience members affected by a crisis. 

Respond quickly

In the age of social media, news or rumors can spread quickly. Getting out in front of a crisis can control the message. Act quickly and make sure you send accurate updates to your stakeholders.

Take Responsibility

If you are responsible for the crisis, take accountability. Don’t play the blame game, or you risk multiplying your problems. 

Deliver up-to-date information 

But only as necessary and to the right audience members.

talk to the reputation experts reputation 911

Crisis Communication Management Plan

Are you in need of further assistance preparing for a crisis? Reputation911 has the ability to offer a helping hand that can carry your business long term, far past any crisis or challenge.

Creating a formal business crisis management plan helps both employers and employees gain peace of mind in trying times. Get started with a free consultation today.

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