Is your crisis plan ready for the post-Covid world?
Here's a checklist of essential components and considerations for your crisis communications plan
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how important a crisis communications plan can be when dealing with your employees, customers, investors, partners and the community. But is your communications plan up to the task?
Here's a seven-point checklist to help you answer that question:
1. Does the plan identify your crisis risks?
Just two years ago, a global pandemic was not seen as a Tier 1 risk for most companies. Cyber crime was still an emerging threat. As the global economy opens up again, what are the scenarios your organisation needs to prepare for? Who would be impacted and what would their needs and concerns be? Consider a playbook for specific high-impact, high-likelihood scenarios.
2. Does it reflect your organisation’s structure?
One size doesn’t fit all: a crisis plan should mould to your organisation’s structure. Consider how many levels are required, e.g., local, regional, global, and for time zone differences. What is the chain of command?
3. Does it have senior leadership buy-in?
Prompt and open communication may be at the cornerstone of your planning but, when the heat is on, will the CEO and board commit to this?
4. Is adequate resourcing built in?
Adrenaline may get you through the first 48 hours but eventually each crisis team member will need to take time out. Are alternates identified and trained in these roles? Are back-up facilities and systems identified and available?
5. Does it include a communications toolkit?
Do you have template materials prepared with messages that reflect your organisation's mission, values and priorities? Have you identified the audiences you will need to reach, and the channels you will use to reach them?
6. Does it identify the right spokespeople?
It’s an oft-debated point but this may not always be the CEO: the best media spokespeople are selected on the basis of their availability, their familiarity with the situation, their ability to handle media questions and their credibility with audiences.
7. Do team members understand their roles?
The plan itself is only one element of crisis preparedness: assigning and training crisis team members is essential to ensure the right people understand their own roles and responsibilities, and how they interact with their colleagues in a crisis. Crisis simulations are a great way to build that understanding and to stress-test your plan.
Finally, is it up to date? As your business evolves and the risk environment changes, you will need to renew and refresh your crisis communications plan regularly. As we have seen in the last two years, the world can change very quickly.