Crises are inevitable. Whether they develop as a result of human involvement, technological errors, or natural interferences, having a proper plan in place can reduce risks and minimize the possibility of a crisis turning into a business-crippling disaster.
One of the simplest ways to minimize the impact of a crisis is to develop a crisis communication plan as a part of your business continuity and disaster recovery strategy. This post reveals some of the steps you should consider when creating your crisis communication plan to help build credibility, maintain reputation, reduce rumors, and provide information during an incident.
Adding a Crisis Communication Plan To Your BC/DR Strategy
Assess Your Risks
There are many factors to consider when assessing the risks that can affect your business. Different incidents may require different communication plans depending on the risk and impact to the business.
Identify your risks and conduct risk assessments to help determine which incidents you’ll need a communication plan for and how in-depth the plan needs to be.
Identify the Audience
When it comes to a crisis, effective communication is critical. As an incident unravels, you need to effectively communicate with your internal audiences first to help ensure employee protection. Then communicate externally to help protect yourexternal constituents such as customers, maintain credibility, and give your business a chance to recover.
Part of your crisis communication plan needs to include how and when to notify your employees and what information they need to know to ensure their safety. If individual employees need to take action to address the crisis and protect the business, make sure that the employee knows what to do. Being able to push information is key. Does the employee have (or need) their recovery task list? Poll them and ask if they need anything.
Additionally, when creating your notifications strategy, let your employees know what they can and can’t share publicly. Reinforce that there is only one person authorized to speak to the media and- refer all media inquiries to that person. Having these rules in place will help keep rumors and sensitive information from being leaked, escalating the crisis.
One of the first places that your users, customers, and community will run to for information following an incident is social media. For this reason, it’s crucial that you establish a credible social media presence and monitor activity across platforms to debunk rumors, provide accurate information, and engage with your audience. It’s also important to dDevelop a social media policy which clearly identifies what an employee should and should not post on social media. Be prepared to monitor what employees are posting.
In addition to social media, your crisis communication plan should also include a plan for talking to news media outlets.
For news outlets and other forms of media, assign a spokesperson to establish a single source of truth that the public can turn to ask questions, and receive updates and instructions. Your spokesperson should be the official source of information for your business and shouldn’t direct questions to other employees.
A crisis often happens without warning. Similar to your business continuity and disaster recovery strategy, you should be proactive with your crisis communication plan and regularly ensure that your employees know what they can and cannot say, educate your spokesperson on any pertinent information that will help them craft clear and accurate information that they can share, and develop your social media strategy to so your brand is seen as a source of credible and reliable information.
By proactively testing out your crisis communication plan, you can keep rumors from spreading and control the dialog to help your business recover from the incident.
For more tips on creating your crisis communication plan as a part of your disaster recovery strategy, check out this on-demand webinar.
Written by Mike Jennings, VP of Advisory Services
Mike leads the Assurance Advisory Services team. During his more than 26 years of business continuity management, disaster recovery and enterprise risk management experience, he has mentored clients and helped them solve their program needs. Mike has worked extensively with clients throughout the world on their BCM programs, including their underlying incident management and crisis management programs.