Responding to a crisis requires a crisis response team, not merely a person. And while communication is essential, activating this team must come first. Communication with specific audiences comes last. Initial steps are key and, because of the rapid pace of new and emerging media, these initial actions should occur fast enough to allow for your first public communication to occur within 60-minutes of activating a call-down list and notifying the crisis response team (CRT).

A communication plan template can be found in the resources section of this special blog series.

First Priorities

Everyone on the CRT must understand that responding to a crisis is not business-as-usual. Responding with effective, compelling information requires time and commitment. There are clear priorities that must be addressed first, before any communication can occur. Failing to address these priorities and opting to communicate first may escalate the crisis:

  • Ensure everyone is safe and there is no continued danger to life (human or animal). Notify authorities immediately.
  • Ensure that your organization is prepared to respond (i.e. the right people are available and knowledgeable; computer systems are operational; facilities are intact).
  • Ensure there is a willingness to respond among those on the team.
  • Find out if any laws or regulations were broken.
  • Make certain the situation is stable and not continuing.
  • Know your rights and what’s not permissible.

This example reference chart provides additional information and steps and can be used as a checklist. Anyone on the CRT should be empowered to activate a crisis response plan.




Start Documenting Communications

Make sure that all communications regarding the crisis are logged. This includes all media inquiries and those from the public, stakeholders, lawyers, public officials and law enforcement – anyone outside your organization. The log should include information on the nature of the inquiry and precisely what the person is expecting to hear in response. A contact log template can be found in the resources section of this special blog series.

This is part of a special blog series, Communicating in Crisis. Find tools, information and resources to better understand crisis.

For an expertly assembled plan, contact Ryan.

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