Tips for Developing a Crisis Communication Plan in Today’s World

Blog Post By: Avery Faehling, Baer Performance Marketing Intern

Just as your industry is constantly evolving, so, too, should your crisis communication plan.
Proactively managing threats has only gotten increasingly important in today’s fast-paced, plugged-in world. Crisis communication plans should be considered “living documents” that need to be consistently updated to best reflect the business, its staff, and the possible threats that could impact operations.

Following these five tips will help you build a crisis communication strategy or ensure an existing plan is up-to-date:

Don’t Expect Social Uproar to Die Out

It is imperative your business is prepared for social media crises. To begin a social media-focused crisis communication plan, identify what constitutes a warning signal for your brand. After a warning is identified and presents itself, examine how many people are talking about the given problem, and determine the severity of the social media crisis. From these steps, you can then form your message and determine how to structure a response based on the platform the crisis hit on. Be sure to combat the crisis on the same platform it occurred. From there, address the issue on any platforms the crisis could spread to.

Create Multiple, Problem-Specific Plans

Is your plan still trying to work as a one-size-fits-all? It’s best that you adjust your plan to the specific crises you could possibly take on. Crises can fall into a long list of categories. Below are a handful of examples that can be fit into a grouping:

  • Information: Examples of crises in this category can include information leaks concerning your organization, getting hacked, and personal data being released on your employees.
  • Criminal: This category speaks for itself. There are a lot of crimes to be committed and plenty of time for someone associated with your brand to commit one.
  • Natural disaster: While Mother Nature is out of your control, the way you handle a natural disaster if employees or customers are at your business will help determine whether your company survives it.
  • Economic: Sometimes money can be tricky. Your business needs to be ready for crises such as fraud, bribes, bankruptcy, etc.
  • Physical: No, not a fight. We are talking product failures that may be causing issues with your customers.

Outline Tactics Based on Your Level of Responsibility

Messaging varies depending on how responsible your organization appears to be for a crisis. Below is a short guide to the amount of responsibility your brand holds (ordered weakest to strongest):

Weaker Responsibility

  1. Rumors
  2. Natural disasters
  3. Malevolence

Stronger Responsibility

  1. Accidents
  2. Misdeeds


Weigh the Likelihood of Crises

Knowing your area of business, determine what brand-damaging crisis is most likely to occur. For example, if you manufacture automobile parts, you’d likely list physical crises at the top of your list.

Know Your Stakeholders

By proactively identifying your stakeholders, you will be able to more efficiently and effectively tailor your messaging when you’re in the midst of a crisis. Some examples of stakeholders that most brands have include employees, customers, media personnel, government services, and shareholders. After those have been addressed, your business needs to identify other stakeholders that are specific to your industry or company, such as sponsors or community partners.

How often does your PR team make updates to your crisis communication plan to ensure it is up-to-date? Do you have a special technique that helps keep you current? Let us know in the comment section below!
If you’re interested in learning more about crisis communication planning, please contact Baer Performance Marketing today!