Planning for the unthinkable: Crisis comms after the Paris attack

Prepare your crisis response plan, experts say. Know how to reach your employees digitally. And ready yourself to respond to wild rumors on the Internet.

A catastrophe on the scale of Friday’s terror attacks in Paris may seem remote from the daily life of most communicators.

Yet crisis communication requires professionals to think through the unthinkable, plan their response and prepare to manage information amid wild rumors, several experts say.

The events in Paris are horrific and troubling for civilized society, and the initial crisis response is one for physical and corporate security experts, says Andrew Gilman, president and chief executive of CommCore Consulting Group.

“For communications, the Paris attack is similar to natural disasters such as the tsunami in Asia and Hurricane Katrina and the shootings at Virginia Tech,” Gilman says. “It teaches that we must look at our crisis plans and make sure that they are up to date and using the best rapid technologies. For example, universities don’t rely on email to reach students in the event of a crisis or incident; most use text messages.”

Managing the rumors

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