Having a crisis communications plan is a little like taking out insurance, everybody hopes they never need it but you could regret it if you don’t have it.
Many small businesses think they don’t need a crisis plan but, it is important to have one in place. The key things I would advise SME’s to have in place are the following:
- A spokesperson should a crisis occur. It is best to have only one of two people involved with this as everybody trying to comment could be a disaster.
- Think about how you deal with complaints on social media. I would suggest, never delete the complaint, respond to the complaint you want followers to see that you are dealing with the issue, have a specific person who deals with online complaints and don’t get into arguments with the customer/client on social.
- If the crisis looks like it is going to spread make sure you communicate with stakeholders and customers (where relevant)
- Devise a media statement as soon as possible
- Respond to any media enquiries in a timely fashion
- Advise the team that any queries regarding the crisis must be directed straight to the spokesperson. What you don’t want to happen is the first staff hear about it is when the press call and they respond without thinking.
- In advance and depending on your business think about key messages and how you would respond to any of the following incidents (where relevant)
- accidents that injure employees or others
- property damage to company facilities
- liability associated injury to or damage sustained by others
- production or service interruptions
- chemical spills or releases with potential off-site consequences, including environmental
- product quality issues
This is just a very brief overview and crisis comms can be a very in-depth and tricky area. If in doubt hire a professional.