How to Prepare For a Crisis

By Ashley Pratte, Vice President

While it’s true that no one could truly have seen this crisis coming and planned for what’s currently happening, there are ways that companies and organizations can be internally prepared for a crisis situation so as to not be too caught off guard when one arises.

The Herald Group often recommends solidifying a crisis response team through a company or organization’s internal communications department. In addition to the creation of this team which will identify key spokespersons, The Herald Group recommends the creation of a crisis communications playbook. This playbook will be developed in advance of a crisis, but can always be amended during one and will guide how a company or organization responds and handles media outreach as well as stakeholder outreach.

When it comes to crisis communications there are some best practices that The Herald Group recommends to clients in order to show proactivity and responsiveness to the media, below are the best practices:

Determining Whether or Not to Speak to the Media

What’s the obligation or benefit to having your company or organization speak to the public or media on the issue?

  • Yes, there will be a lot of media coverage but is it worth it? Meet with your internal communications team as well as consultants to determine the benefits.
  • Sometimes it makes more sense to stay out of the limelight.

Will doing an interview extend the reach of the company or organization?

  • Having a voice in initial coverage can ensure that facts are as accurate as possible and important audiences hear directly from the company/organization about what has happened. It’s better for your audience to hear directly from you.
  • Speaking to the media can send a strong signal about the commitment and character of the company/organization. This can be remembered by your audience for years to come.

Will responding to the media shrink the risk or negativity?

  • If a company/organization can’t respond fast enough to a request or in the wake of a crisis, it may be best to avoid responding at all. News media interest is short. Negative attention may only last a few hours as the media quickly turns to the next big story. Don’t make the mistake of issuing a statement or offering to do interviews about a negative issue after the main attention has faded, this could end up causing more harm to your company/organization.
  • If the story/crisis lasts longer than just minutes or hours then thought should be given to a substantive and informed response–not rushed. Often, a new perspective or deeper analysis with more facts can be important to share if the narrative has started in a negative direction. There is credibility in having information examined and published by an outside, independent entity rather than your company/organization.

Source: Meltwater