Playbook for Crisis Communications

Playbook for Crisis Communications

It's your worse nightmare as a communications professional: something terribly bad has happened to your business. And it probably has some pretty serious legal implications. The media is calling and your lawyers are knocking at your door.

It's time for Crisis Communications.

How do you recover? How do you handle it?

Are you ready?

1. Manage the Message

The most important message to manage is the knowledge that is happening with the team involved with the crisis communications. Everyone needs to be on the same page. If you have silos, break them down. Everyone needs to know everything.

2. Increase Transparency

It takes time and you'll go through a lot of bumps along the way but it is possible. Proper internal comms will turn your employees into brand advocates and help share the message of transparency. and honesty. Tell the real story. You need to cover the good, the bad, and the ugly. And you need to be consistent about it.

3. Really Listen

Monitor your channels and mentions that are happening online is important but there are also other conversations happening in your call centers and in the media. All of these channels need to be monitored and data gathered for analysis.

4. Create Compelling Content

Create content that is relevant to the crisis to not only inform your audience on the situation but to also educate them on the issue at hand. This creates a cohesive and well-rounded message for the audience. Again: cover the good, the bad, the ugly. This all creates credibility. 

5. Focus on Being Human

When the time is right, shift the focus to be more personal. You can stay mad at a corporation for a long time, but people are easier to give. This is your pivot moment. Put a face to your brand who can make that human and personal connection to the audience.

6. Get Ahead of the Story

As you find out more information, come clean with the information before someone else does. It's a practice of being transparent and it is the right thing to do. Not only should this mean that you should be breaking your own news but you should also work with media ahead of time to oversee how your story is going to be told.

7. Own Your Truth

It's important to own your own truth, even if the truth hurts. This is now part of your story and there is no way to get around it. Stay away from the "no comment" statement or avoiding the media, there is no hiding. If you don't own your own truth, someone else will... and that you can't control. You can't make facts go away.


Content from this article was inspired by workshops and presentations given at the 2017 Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications by Ragan Communications. 

Speaker: Dustee Tucker Jenkins, Chief Communication Officer, Target. @dusteejenkins

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