KPA Report - June 24, 2021
The KPA Report: Crisis Communications
Crisis communications planning and execution is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization from unwanted or unwarranted negative publicity with the potential for reputational damage.
Without a plan, the effects of a crisis on a company or organization with a slow response could mean significant impacts to financial and reputational bottom lines, with exaggerated and costly operational impacts – and in some cases a slow or mismanaged response may even be deemed criminally negligent.
Can you prepare for every crisis or contingency? No. But can you can create and, if necessary, execute a crisis communications plan that will address the majority of issues. Preparation is key, and while some things can be foreseen, some cannot. The COVID-19 pandemic is good example.
Here are a few things you can do in advance to help prevent or mitigate a potential crisis:
- ID your team – People should know their roles. Know who is in charge, and who has the authority to make quick operational and financial decisions. Know who is in charge if that person is unavailable or incapacitated. Every organization is different and depending on the size of the company some employees may wear more than one hat.
- Train your team – Who will serve as spokesperson/s for the company and in what circumstance/s? Media training for these individuals is critical.
- Develop an early warning system – Whether Google Alerts or a more sophisticated media monitoring software, this is cheap insurance for understanding the impact of a crisis before, during and after it hits.
- Anticipate – Brainstorm scenarios that are both likely and unlikely and how your team will respond to each. Some crises have multiple elements, others are one dimensional.
- Conduct a vulnerability assessment – Identify your organization's communications weaknesses and work to fix those before a crisis strikes.
- Practice responding to the most likely scenarios – Talk through your plan with your leadership team and the employees tasked with responsibilities in your plan before you face a crisis. An unopened document in a binder, gathering dust on a shelf is not going to do anybody much good.
- Know your stakeholders – Know who your stakeholders are, they may include employees, organizational leadership, department heads, legal counsel, public relations, IT and security officials, and know how to reach them in real time. Notification protocols may also include first responders and government officials.
- Communicate – Communicate in real time, messages should be relevant and understandable to those receiving them, information should be available everywhere, sometimes in multiple languages. Build in communications redundancy and backups, mobile communications will likely be your first line of defense. However, keep in mind that cell phones may be unusable during a physical event.
Crisis communications sounds daunting, but by starting with at least a basic action plan and successfully executing that plan, it may make all the difference to the future of an individual, company or organization facing an imminent crisis. On a final note, after the crisis has passed, gather your team to analyze the good and bad parts of your response, adjust your plan and remember to revisit the plan on a regular basis.
KPA Strategies is here to help you with all your research needs, at the local, state, or federal level. KPA Strategies offers an initial consultation for new clients, candidates and/or their consultants to understand our services, kick the tires, get some good initial advice, and walk away with at least a basic checklist of the things we look at during our research. If you would like a consultation on your current crisis communications plan, KPA has a short presentation that we are happy to share via a phone call, Zoom, or in person.
Dan Kramer, President of KPA Strategies, has more than 20 years’ experience in political, campaign and trade association management, investigative research, and public relations. He is an expert in developing and implementing effective public affairs campaigns for businesses, institutions, and individuals under attack from competitors, activists, political and regulatory officials, and the media. Please feel free to reach out with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kpastrategies.com.