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R-E-L-A-X and Develop a Crisis Communications Game Plan

Tara Brzozowski

Director of Public Relations

It’s been quite the tumultuous week here in Packerland with the jarring, yet not unanticipated, firing of Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy. In the Frozen Tundra, Packers football is a big deal, and you can only imagine the surge of online conversations and disputes over Green Bay’s latest move.

Before the news even hit Sunday night, Packers spokespeople and internal communications team likely went into crisis mode, following a carefully laid out communications plan. Without this strategic roadmap, the outlook of the community-owned organization’s favorability would look a lot bleaker.

It’s not just professional football teams that need a crisis communications plan; corporations of all sizes should consider developing one, too. All companies, big or small, have to anticipate crises and get ahead of any negative or potentially problematic news.

While the process of developing a plan is extensive, requires stakeholder buy-in, and employee training, there are a few places you can start.

Predict Potential Crisis Situations

Creating a crisis communications plan is all about being proactive. By anticipating possible crises, you can develop communication templates and plans based on scenarios that your company is vulnerable to. For example, crises that a construction company could face are quite different than a crisis a university might experience.

Determine a Crisis Communications Team

Think about the members of your organization who would play a critical role in addressing a crisis. They aren’t all necessarily your company spokespeople but may represent various departments of your company. Your crisis communications team is your emergency response team with boots on the ground, strategically directing internal and external communications. Some of these team members should also be part of the plan development.

Designate a Spokesperson … and a Second String

Depending on how your team is structured, you may choose to designate a single spokesperson or spokespeople for different types of crises. Because a crisis doesn’t always happen at a convenient time, a backup spokesperson should also be identified in case the primary spokesperson is not available. Spokespeople should be media trained, comfortable in front of a camera and with reporters, and extremely knowledgeable on your organization and the crisis plan.

If you don’t think your business needs a crisis communications plan, we challenge that play. While these tips barely scratch the surface of developing a plan, we hope they will heat up your offense.

Need help developing and implementing your crisis communications plan? Contact Element’s PR pros and let’s get started.