8 often-overlooked steps to take before crisis strikes

As we’ve seen disasters come in all shapes and sizes, and dealing with a pandemic is quite unlike walking back a CEO’s PR gaffe. Still, these fundamentals can help you keep your business afloat.

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In a crisis, company leaders turn to communicators to limit reputational damage, yet many communicators feel underprepared to right the ship should disaster strike.

Here are eight easy measures you can take now to ensure you’re ready for any gales and swells that might arise:

1. Build trust with legal now. Communicators and legal teams work best when they’re partners before a crisis, says Nancy Bistritz-Balkan, director of cybersecurity communications at McKesson. She’s had considerable experience handling crises from a communications perspective in prior senior communications roles at Experian and CHEP USA, among others.

“Take the lead, and set up a meeting with your legal team,” she says. “The agenda should just be to create a mutual understanding about what needs to be communicated in various crisis situations. Put yourself in their shoes, and be receptive to working around language.”

She advises following up with meetings focused on reviewing copy. For example, she recalls, an attorney at a previous employer would read her copy and say, “I understand what you’re trying to do, but I need to help you change the language.”

Over time, she learned to approach legal advisors with “proposed language.”

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