Does your organization already have a crisis communication plan? In the course of pursuing your weekly to-do list, it can be easy to push aside non-urgent priorities. Crises never feel immediate until they are looming on the horizon, so this plan is one that tends to get lost in the shuffle. When you have a networked platform in your organization, it can be easy to feel like your plan will work on autopilot. However, it’s a mistake not to sporadically analyze your plan to see that it’s up-to-date.
A crisis communications plan is a living document that requires attention from time to time. As your organization grows, people change roles or leave, departments change, priorities shift, and technology becomes obsolete and is either replaced or jettisoned. Here’s how you can check in with your current crisis communication plan to make sure you’ve locked in the necessary updates.
Check for Personnel Changes
Your plan may have designated key personnel to lead the charge in an emergency. These key individuals might be executives, managers, or subject matter experts in areas like cybersecurity, technology, manufacturing, or operations. Wherever your crisis communication plan has designated individuals that are responsible for carrying out emergency plans, make sure these individuals are still there. If they’ve changed roles, are they still able to carry out their proposed responsibilities? If they’re no longer with your organization, who has replaced them and are they informed of the crisis communication plans?
Establish Notification Systems
Technology is making it possible for organizations to be ever more equipped to reach stakeholders. That means that when a crisis occurs, you can immediately reach multiple parties and notify them. Whether it’s through text message, VoIP, email, phone call, or instant message, you can quickly notify team members in a crisis. Every so often, evaluate the communication channels in your current plan and check for potential upgrades. Platforms like AtHoc Connect even make it possible for you to create your own permission-based crisis communications network to extend critical communication to external organizations.
Analyze Your Technology
It’s possible your IT department has built out new security protocols to meet the growing challenges of cybersecurity. Ensure the technical situation depicted in your plan reflects your current reality. You may even want to schedule a meeting with your IT department to discuss upgrades, updates, and new priorities since your last communications plan was created.
Update Your Templates
Branding and PR professionals will have lots of advice around crisis and communications and messaging. You may have templates in place that are designed for immediate deployment in the event of several different scenarios. You don’t want to waste time figuring out what to say to other stakeholders or to the public when disaster strikes. So make sure your templates are aligned with current branding and PR messaging standards. If you don’t yet have templates in place, you can update your crisis communication plan by creating some.
Identify Key Lessons from Real-Life Situations
Your organization has likely matured since you created your plan. What growing pains have you experienced? If there have been any disasters, crises, or disruptions, you should update your plan with key takeaways. If your organization responded well, what worked and what can you repeat? If your organization didn’t respond well, why not? What could have been done differently? Put your experience to good use, and build out a best-case scenario into your crisis communications plan. The next time an emergency occurs, your organization will be better equipped to handle it.
Schedule Another Review
Now that you’ve reviewed your crisis communication plan, schedule another time to take a look at it. At least once a year, a review will provide the opportunity to prepare your organization for whatever comes at it. If there are leaders and key personnel whose input is required, find a time for everyone to come together and add their feedback.
A crisis communication plan isn’t something you should create once and then put aside until it’s needed. Crises can touch all areas of your organization and greatly impact productivity. Your crisis communication plan will serve as a framework for keeping your organization nimble and adaptable, even as it grows and innovates.