Any worthwhile public relations strategy should include a crisis communications plan.
Unfortunately, many organization fail to consider that something might go awry, and when disaster strikes, they are utterly unprepared. A key aspect of a crisis communications plan is determining who should be called in and consulted when a response is needed.
With a nod to “Ghostbusters,” it pays to establish “who ya gonna call” when a crisis strikes. Here are six common first responders who should be prepped and kept in the loop:
1. The CEO/president
As Harry Truman was fond of saying, “The buck stops here.” The CEO or president is often the public face of a company during a crisis. These top executives set the tone for the organization, so they should be an integral part of the crisis planning process.
CEOs aren’t always the best choice to quell crises, but they should at least be up to speed on every aspect of crisis prep and response.
2. General counsel or organization attorney
A crisis often raises legal issues. Your response could also have legal ramifications, so it’s wise to seek input from a lawyer before doing anything.
3. Company communications officer
Internal comms specialists who are intimately familiar the company’s brand story, values and PR strategy should be on the front lines of any crisis response. It’s crucial to designate a point person who can craft, guide and maintain a cohesive, consistent narrative.
4. Human resources rep
A crisis affects employees, too. HR should be in constant communication with staff members during a firestorm to address misinformation, questions and concerns.
5. Social media staffer
Any viable crisis communications plan should include a robust social media strategy. Your digital chief should be thoroughly trained in various crisis scenarios and ready to respond with approved messaging.
6. Public relations firm
An external PR pro can bring an objective perspective to a crisis and help mitigate the damage to your reputation. Not all crises call for outside help, but it pays to identify a go-to agency just in case. If you wait until disaster strikes to solicit PR help, it might already be too late to mitigate the bad media coverage.
Identifying (and equipping) all your key players is the starting point for a cohesive response when chaos erupts. Far too often, organizations waste precious time during a crisis in identifying who needs to do what. Sorting all this out in advance will help you swiftly and strategically extinguish fires before they spread.