Crisis Communication Guide: Streamline your communications strategy during the unexpected.
STREAMLINE YOUR COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY DURING THE UNEXPECTED.
Advance preparation in key areas enables you to respond faster and can have a positive impact on your organization’s recovery and employee safety. Below, we’ve compiled some simple steps you can take to be as prepared as possible to communicate effectively during any crisis.
10-Step Guide to Effective Crisis Communications
You can’t control when or what the next crisis will be, but you can choose how to prepare for and communicate throughout it. Advance preparation in key areas enables you to respond faster and can have a tremendously positive impact on your organization’s recovery and employee safety. Below, we’ve compiled some simple steps you can take to be as prepared as possible to communicate effectively during any crisis.
- Create a Crisis Communications Team (CCT)
When facing the unexpected, the flow of information should be consistent and organized in order to avoid mixed or wrong messages. Identify members of your organization who should act as the CCT should the need arise, and make sure that they have been trained on how to properly communicate with internal and external stakeholders. Be sure to include various executives and managers in the CCT to take key roles such as Official Spokesperson, Internal Communications Manager, Employee Liaison, Social Media Manager, Researcher/Writer, etc.
- Determine the Crisis Communications Team Locations
Members of the CCT could be needed in multiple locations during an emergency. These locations could include emergency operations centers, media centers, or branch offices. As with other areas of your Crisis Response Plan, these locations should be evaluated and designated with the unique needs of your organization in mind.
- Identify your Audience Groups
Identify the audience your organization needs to reach during a crisis in order to more effectively and proactively communicate the type of information each segment needs in the case of an emergency. Your audience may include employees, vendors, customers, or other stakeholders. Tip: Regroup Mass Notification enables you to pre-configure unlimited groups for sending mass notifications within seconds. It’s easy to keep group contact data up-to-date with features such as our automated API integrations with the leading employee and student information systems.
- Take an All-Hazards Approach When Anticipating Crises
A common mistake many organizations make is not taking an all-hazard approach when formulating responses to crises. Take time to formulate possible responses to various possible situations when the CCT is calm and clear-headed, instead of trying to figure out an appropriate response in the middle of a crisis. These might include severe weather, network outages, acts of violence, or many others depending on your location and organization.
- Implement an Easy-to-Use Mass Notification System
Having a means to quickly reach your recipients using their preferred contact methods is a necessity when it comes to crisis communications. Using email or time-consuming call-trees as the only methods to alert of an emergency has been proven ineffective. A true emergency notification system like Regroup’s offers several customizable messaging capabilities and allows you to send alerts much faster with only two clicks. Our cloud-based platform also facilitates real-time two-way communication and even enables you to relay critical information during power outages or when cell towers are down using our free mobile apps.
- Use Your Online Presence
When looking for information, most people naturally gravitate to checking organizations’ social media accounts and website. Your stakeholders will likely do the same during a disruption of normal activities due to an emergency or crisis. Be proactive and draft social media posts, blogs, press releases, and other communications that can help spread the word in the event of a widespread emergency like severe weather. Ensure that your online presence will be kept up-to-date by assigning this important task to a member of the CCT.
- Establish Monitoring & Information Gathering Plans
A key component of crisis communications strategies is getting information back from others in the organization during and following a crisis. Establish monitoring and information gathering plans so the CCT knows where to get up-to-date information during an emergency that will allow members to prepare accordingly, adapt strategies, and send help where it is most needed.
- Conduct Regular Drills to Fine-Tune the Crisis Communications Plan
It’s extremely important for the CCT to regularly conduct practice drills to ensure everyone is familiar with the role they will play during an emergency. By practicing responses to real-life scenarios, your Crisis Communications Plan can also be fine-tuned and improved upon. Drills should include everyone who would be involved in safeguarding the organization and its members, and should consider challenging circumstances like power outages, network outages, and the possibility that some CCT members may be unavailable in a real emergency.
- Build in Post-Crisis Communication Plans
Planning for the moment an emergency strikes is invaluable, but what about 3 days after the hurricane hits, or hours after an office fire has been extinguished? Thinking ahead about how to recover from a crisis and return to normal is just as important. The CCT should be prepared to release updates on when and how your organization can return to normal. Being prepared for best- and worst-case scenarios can save valuable time, reduce anxiety for employees, and ensure business continuity and optimal organizational resilience.
- Analyze Your Crisis Response Plan & Communications Strategy
After a crisis, the CCT needs to analyze which procedures were effective and refine plans for how to respond to future crisis situations. Depending on the type of crisis you faced, a simple report with the findings by the CCT could be a proactive way to show others you take the incident seriously and have safeguards in place to avoid that type of crisis from ever occurring again. A mass notification system like Regroup that has built-in reporting can help with evaluating the effectiveness of all communications before, during, and after a crisis, making it easier to document efforts and refine your plans following an incident.
Ready to see more? You can schedule a no-obligation demo of Regroup’s powerful notification system here.