01.07.2016 Crafting comms plans for times of crisis 

The EU referendum result has caused one of the biggest political and economic upheavals in modern British history.

As the dust continues to settle and individuals and businesses take stock of the situation, many are starting to appreciate the necessity of good communication.

Having a comms plan is good practice for any organisation anyway, but they become essential during times of crisis or uncertainty.

Here are our five top tips when crafting a comms plan:

Consult with staff and customers/stakeholders

In many organisations crafting a comms plan is most likely to be a top-down exercise.

After all, the leadership team will have the most complete picture of the state of the organisation and its future direction.

But it is a good idea to have the input of everyone concerned with the organisation, including staff, customers, partners and any other stakeholders.

Consult with them as to what to include, what to prioritise and what to leave out. What would they want to know in the event of a crisis? How would they want to be informed?

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Appoint a responsible person

You might already have an individual, a department or even an outsourced agency responsible for communication that will be the first port of call in a crisis situation.

But if not you should appoint a responsible person. This doesn’t necessarily mean creating a completely new role, but it is important those responsibilities rest with a designated individual who others can turn to for answers.

 

Consider your staff first

In uncertain times it’s natural that people will worry about themselves and their livelihoods. Is their job secure? Can they keep paying the mortgage? How will this affect their families?

Yet organisations, especially large ones, are not always the best at communicating with their employees.

It’s vital that staff are kept informed during a crisis, whether it’s through regular email updates, team meetings or one-to-ones.

Ideally your employees should be the first to know what is happening in your organisation; the last thing they need (and the last thing you want in terms of PR) is to be misinformed through gossip or rumour or to find out bad news through other channels, especially the media.

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What channels will you use?

How you communicate is equally as important as what you say. As mentioned above, you should carefully consider how you communicate with those within your organisation, but you should also think about external comms.

There are all sorts of considerations. You might be social media savvy, for example, but how appropriate would it be to make an important, potentially complex announcement in 140 characters on Twitter?

When is it appropriate to hold a press conference? For some announcements it might be the best way to inform people, but for others the added scrutiny and the pressure of the media spotlight might be too much.

 

Prepare for any eventuality

If the events of the last decade have proved anything, it’s that we live in an increasingly uncertain world.

Economic crisis, political disorder, international terrorism and climate change are just some of the challenges the world has faced and will continue to face for the foreseeable future.

It’s also the case that the world is more interconnected than ever before, and as such you can’t guarantee that you or your organisation will be isolated from world events, no matter how small or insignificant you feel.

That’s why a good comms plan should cover any eventuality, however unlikely it might seem.