In PR, as on the gridiron, planning and practice win in crunch time

Huddle up! Draw up your crisis strategy, do a walkthrough, be prepared to move swiftly down the field, and don’t be afraid to call an audible.

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PR pros, not unlike football coaches, must prepare detailed game plans to avoid getting caught off guard. These plans should outline a comprehensive strategy for how their team will respond to a variety of situations, so they can weather adversity.

When teams don’t adjust well to unanticipated events—injuries, ejections, severe weather, crowd noise or bad calls, for instance—they rarely succeed. The same goes for handling a PR crisis.

In honor of the football season upon us, here are four tips to craft a coach-worthy crisis communications game plan for your clients:

1. Draw it up.

For each anticipated scenario, you should have a written holding statement in place, or at least a template with placeholders for pending details. It’s also important to prepare messaging and procedures for any employees who might be approached by news media members. Would a football coach ask his players to wing it, without any practice or prep? Neither should PR pros.

For each specific scenario, identify a primary spokesperson to speak about the technicalities of the crisis. The spokesperson must also be comfortable in front of a camera, knowing how to tackle difficult questions and run the option to secondary messaging when necessary.

Also, map out your points of contact ahead of time.

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