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  • Writer's picturePetersensPR

Why a strong communications plan is vital in the event of a crisis

Crisis communications can be one of the more challenging parts of working in public relations.

While much of the work we do in PR is carefully strategised, planned and mapped out, a crisis comms situation can be more immediate, fluid and unpredictable, forcing us to be reactive and innovative in our response.


You see, that’s the thing about crisis comms – more often than not we can’t talk publicly about the work we have done.

That’s because clients are paying us to help them manage a very difficult situation that could cause huge reputational and potentially financial damage to their business or organisation.

Sometimes this involves working hard to keep the situation from going public – the opposite of what they might usually want us to do for them.

While a successful PR campaign can be measured by the amount of positive media coverage we achieve, often a successful crisis comms campaign can be measured by the lack of media attention.

Preparing for the unpredictable

So, with that in mind, how can a business or organisation prepare for a crisis comms situation?

It’s important to have a crisis comms plan in place – even if you can’t predict a crisis, you can still plan for one.

Having a plan helps ensure the right people get the right information at the right time in the event of a crisis and that everyone is communicating the same messaging.

Think about the kinds of crisis situations you could face – they could be related to your finances, your products and services, your technology, your personnel, or something very specific to your business.

Prepare some hypothetical scenarios based on what could go wrong, and try to identify and answer some of the questions with which you might be faced.

The nature of the plan will be dictated by the nature of your business and the nature of the crises you could face, but as a starting point it should at least outline the key roles and responsibilities:

  • Who are your stakeholders? Identifying all the groups you need to communicate to is vital, e.g. shareholders, clients, customers, employees, the general public.

  • Who will act as the company spokesperson? A good communicator can make all the difference in the face of a crisis, making your business seem more human. Are they media trained? If not, that should be a priority.

  • Who is going to manage social media? Someone should monitor your social media accounts for responses, mentions and direct messages relating to the crisis. The plan will determine if and how they should respond.

If you want help creating a plan that can prepare your business for a crisis comms situation, get in touch. At Petersens PR, we have experience of supporting a range of businesses and organisations through various crises. Drop us a line to see how we can help you.

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