No one expects a crisis … until it happens. In this video, Associate Communications Vice President for the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, Amy Whitfield goes over three ways to prepare for and handle a communications crisis.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
I work in communications and oftentimes we deal with crisis. We don’t want to, but we do. Here are three important parts of every crisis communication plan.
EXPECT A CRISIS
First, know and expect you will have a crisis. Whether it’s a natural disaster. Whether it is a public issue. Whatever it is, crises will come.
One of the biggest mistakes that can happen is when an organization assumes there won’t be a problem. And when it happens, they are not prepared. So know and anticipate that a crisis will occur.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE
The second thing is know who you are as an organization. And that includes knowing: Who is in leadership? Who speaks for the organization? Have a plan in place so that you are aware of who will be the primary voice.
This is to establish trust. Your constituents will be expecting and looking to you for answers. So you need to know ahead of time when crisis comes, who will be the person giving them those answers?
HAVE A PLAN
The third thing is to already plan that in a time of crisis every step of the way the question your leadership will be asking is, what is the right thing to do? And you as a communicator must be there to also ask, and how do we communicate that thing clearly?
You have to plan from the beginning that, in a time of crisis when people are unnerved, when people are trying to understand what’s going on, that what you want to do is to do the right thing one step at a time.
The tendency to self-protect can come in. The tendency to panic can come in. All of these things have to pushed out of the way. And when you’re making your plan, if you set that as a standard from the beginning, then when crisis comes you know what are our priorities at each stage. This is what we do in our organization to be prepared for crisis.