Crisis Communication Planning: Is Your Firm Prepared?

Article excerpt

The UPS strike, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Nashville tornado. When crises erupt, the lines of communication often break down at a time when having open communications is the most crucial.

Today's global communications tools, such as the Internet and e- mail, allow news organizations to reach audiences immediately. Therefore, no company, no matter how small, can wait until a crisis hits to decide how to react. Whether a potential crisis is internal or external, advanced planning is essential.

What should most organizations have in their crisis communication plan? Advanced planning includes the following actions: * Appoint designated spokespersons. An organization should designate who will speak for the organization and what the major messages about the organization will be. To assure credibility, spokespersons should be company leaders such as the organization's CEO, president or upper-management. * Plan for "command centers." A command center is a location which serves as a central meeting place for all media outlets. The command center should be equipped with all the necessary communications equipment such as telephones, a fax machine and computer links as well as other items an organization may need in a crisis situation. Should an organization need to hold a press conference, advanced planning for a command center will relieve the organization of the extra burden of searching for this central location when it needs to be focused on the crisis at hand. * Form an issues anticipation team. A crisis can occur inside the organization as well as outside the organization. In fact, most crises are internal, managerial crises. An issues anticipation team consisting of key people from all levels within the organization can work together to anticipate issues that can occur both internally and externally. …