Four Mistakes In Your Crisis Communications Plan

by | Oct 10, 2019 | Crisis Communications

*Spoiler Alert*: This post contains spoilers from Spider-Man: Far From Home

Let’s say you’re Spider-Man. You just got done saving the world from Mysterio when that jerk releases your secret identity to the world. Sounds like a crisis for Peter Parker, amirite? While MCU fans will have to wait a couple years to find out how the web-slinger responds, you shouldn’t hesitate to start planning your own crisis communications plans. Hopefully evil, power-hungry maniacs aren’t going to set you up, but there are a myriad of other situations that could happen to your company at any given moment. Today we’re going to dive into a couple common mistakes when it comes to crisis communication plans and how to avoid them, should you need to avenge your company’s reputation.

Thinking you’ve planned for it all.
When you traditionally think of a crisis communication plan, you imagine sitting down to think of every worst-case scenario. That method is no longer applicable in a digital age, and the truth is that those situations are hard to predict. Thinking of things that could go wrong is a first step, but it shouldn’t be the last. “If This, Then This” statements are an important part of the process, but they can no longer stand alone. The ITTT statements need to be specific, actionable, and flexible. A data breach or e-mail hack is a very different type of crisis than say an oil spill or a loss-of-life situation. By knowing that you can’t predict the future, you can develop a plan to respond to decisions that need to be made, not situations that have arisen.

Not identifying a clear point person.
It used to be that when a crisis hit, you had a little bit more leeway time to meet together, draft a statement, and then respond. Now, thanks to social media and the 24/7 news cycle, a delayed response can almost do as much damage as whatever the incident is that you need to address. In order to make sure your team is prepared, identify ahead of time who can approve statements, tweets, and make decisions. In the middle of a crisis, the CEO might not be available to sign off on the statement you’re posting to your social media accounts, but if it’s decided in advance that someone else can make that call, you’re saving valuable time down the road.

Ignoring social media.
This brings us to our next point: Ignoring your social media accounts in a crisis is a common mistake that is easily avoidable. No matter your industry or your company size, any sort of crisis is likely to play out in one way or another on social media, as social media channels have evolved into trusted sources of information. This can be key if you feel as though your message isn’t being framed correctly in traditional media. Social media allows for fast, interactive communications that are directly stating your positions. Have a plan in place for who can draft, approve, and send tweets. Then have backups for your backups, in case every community manager’s worst nightmare comes true and a crisis happens while they’re on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.

Ignoring your employees.
When you’re trying to put out a figurative fire that’s surrounding the building, it’s important to remember the people inside. Don’t just share your statements/talking points with your C-Suite. Have a plan for dispersing key messaging and important contact information company wide. As part of your planning process, alert all employees to the crisis procedure so they know when and if to wait for further instructions in the moment. Make sure every single person, no matter if they’re the intern or the head of accounting, has a copy of your responses to media and information on where to direct inquiries. That way should a reporter get ahold of the accounts payable department, those employees will know who to pass them off to and be confident in what they can or can’t say.

No one wants to wake up and find your company’s name in headlines, just like no one wants to find out that their secret identity has been leaked to the Daily Bugle. However, should that situation occur, keeping your crisis communications plan updated will at least make the road a little less bumpy, if not entirely smooth.

Dittoe PR

Dittoe PR is a nationally recognized public relations and social media management agency.

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