Prepare holding statements and fact sheets. When the accident or crisis is hitting your organization, there is no time to read a lot of manuals. You need operational plans and prepared holding statements, not novels.
Working with Crisis Management and Crisis Communications over the last 30 years I am still surprised to find so many totally useles Crisis Management Manuals. They look extremely impressive, developed by external consultants, but when the shit hits the fan they are not supporting the decision making at all.
The most important in your Crisis Communications Manual is:
- A brief outline of Media Relations Strategy, maximum a one pager
- An updated relations database also covering media
- Operative check lists for interviews and press conferences
- Prepared holding statements for dimensioning scenarios
- Updated basic fact sheets about your company, products and services
- Access to an image bank with relevant photos and illustrations
During your Risk Assessment you have identified, qualified and prioritized general – and specific -scenarios for your company and location. Based on this you have developed a Crisis Management Manual with operative action plans for priority scenarios. For each of these scenarios you should develop one pagers with:
- Advice regarding spokesperson in this scenario
- Advice regarding priority relations and media
- Advice regarding specific language challenges due to site or involved parties
- Advice how to use your own media, homepage, SoMe platforms
- A prepared holding statement which easily can be adapted to the actual incident
Prioritising relevant local and regional media is essential, as well as foreign or international media, if the accident or crisis is involving personnel or assets from – or in – a specific geographical area.
Having all this in place, there are still three things to do:
- Educate and train your team about policies, plans and procedures
- Drill your Crisis Communications Team alone and with the rest of the organization
- Learn systematically from crises hitting other companies
I recommend our clients to arrange a Crisis Management Workshop for the CEO, Management Team and other key personnel once a year, drill the Crisis Management Organization at least twice a year and train each unit twice a year internally.