Did you know only 23% of U.S. organizations had a dedicated crisis response team in place at the start of the pandemic?

National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to raise awareness around planning for disasters. This year’s theme is, “Prepared to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

This is a reminder to every business and organization to be insightful by creating and implementing a crisis communications plan should we face another global health crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, not all crisis communication plans are created equally. We talked to Lisa Brusio Coster, director of public relations at Gavin, about the do’s and don’ts of a crisis communications plan from the perspective of the organization and employee.

Here are her top tips:

1. Do think about a crisis. A smart business would have a plan to address it.

Think about your business for a minute. Are you and your team ready to face a crisis? How much income or physical space would you lose? These are things you should always think about and eventually plan for as an organization. Logistically, have your building inspections up to date, take care of your employees and keep up on your industry. These factors will make planning your communications easier.

2. Don’t take for granted the status of your business. Whether it’s a new business or an established company, a crisis doesn’t play favorites.

Having a communications plan is equally essential for new and existing businesses. A new business owner might be distracted thinking about the early success rather than have a crisis plan in motion. An established business owner might just stay relaxed, assuming they have everything under control. Remember, plan crisis communication regardless of the age of your business.

3. Do take time to identify and analyze key points in a crisis for your communications plan.

By asking the “what, who, why, how, when, and where.” For example:

– Who is going to be the spokesperson?
– What is the critical message to be delivered?
– How are you controlling the message?
– What are the facts?
– Who is the audience?
– What role will the legal team play?
– How would the physical area of your business be affected, and/or the neighborhood/surrounding area?

These questions will help you put together a crisis communications plan tailored to your specific needs.

4. Don’t just say “no comment” when asked about what the business is doing regarding a crisis.

Always be honest and open. Saying “no comment” can hurt the business’s image because it shows a lack of responsibility and accountability. Ensure you have the right spokesperson and clear messaging. If there isn’t a clear answer on the matter, just lead the answer with “We haven’t determined, yet… but we’re working on it with the proper authorities and will report the results when we have them.” This will ensure your business keeps its reputation in the short and long term.

Employee tip

Be proactive and ask your employers questions:

– Where can I find the crisis plan?

– What’s my goal and role in the organization, if faced with a crisis?

– What’s the physical plan for the building where I work?

– Do we have a crisis and crisis communications plans?

Need help putting together a crisis communications plan?

If you’re looking to go beyond the tips and update your organization’s crisis communications plans, contact us today to talk to one of Gavin’s communications strategists.

Let’s celebrate together this September by preparing you and your business to face any future challenges!