Plan the time and money it takes to research and write an idiot-proof plan
Few things in corporate communications are needed more, but paid attention to less than the crisis communications plan. Here are my thoughts on what a plan should be, what it should not be, and how to get the time and budget you need to write one.
Format: I think one of the hardest things to do is to find a good format for writing the plan. Because most plans are written by consultants, each guards his or her template and plans. Crisis experts make their living off their plans, so getting free advice and a peek at the “jewels” is a rare event.
Definition: The next difficulty is defining what a crisis plan is. I’m often asked to review crisis plans for companies. Usually I’m disappointed to find the company invested a lot of time and money creating a complicated policy manual that sits on a shelf and collects dust.
My rule is that a crisis plan should not tell you how to behave in a crisis, but it should tell you what to do in a crisis, and when. A crisis plan should not be a complicated rulebook that nobody reads. Rather it should be a simple fill-in-the-blank system that walks you through each hour of the crisis, telling you what you should say, who you should say it to and when to say it.