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Planning Ahead Is the Key to Crisis Communications

If you think your organization is safe from having a PR crisis, think again. More likely than not, you'll face the unexpected and you'll need to respond quickly and effectively. Here are some tips gleaned from this week's Bulldog Reporter PR University Audio Conference:
  • How to get buy-in for creating a crisis communications plan: Pitch the idea to your CEO or GM with facts, figures, dollar signs and percentages of what can and has happened to other companies that have gone through crises (Examples: JetBlue's ice storm crisis, Kryptonite's lock crisis) (tip from Donna Tocci of Kryptonite)
  • Test before using: Test your plan and your team before you have a crisis. If you only have a plan and a team, but you haven't tested, you really don't have a crisis program in place to roll at a moment's notice. (tip from Tim Coombs, Assoc. Professor, Crisis Communications, Eastern Illinois Univ.)
  • Write your plan internally: It will get better buy-in, but test it externally using consultants who don't have an ax to grind or internal bosses to please (tip from Steven Fink, President and CEO of Lexicon Communications)
  • Don't test your plan assuming it will work: Test it assuming it will fail, so you can look for the weaknesses and vulnerabilities (tip from Steven Fink)