No matter the business you are in, you should have a process in place for communications during a crisis. Without it, your company could appear indifferent to a tragedy, unprepared for a consumer backlash, or negligent in a product defect.
Identify and notify the short list of important decision-makers in your company.
Get their cell numbers and their commitment to respond at a moment’s notice. Determine your spokesperson, which may or may be your CEO. Think through which VIP is the coolest under pressure and communicates in the most confident way. It can get as detailed as the voice tone or the on-screen presence of one person compared with the other. Try a video session with some mock interviews. Often, this exercise can reveal the best one for this task.
Prepare a set of typical standby statements in advance for issues.
Look at all parts of your business and think through where things could go wrong and prepare statements for those issues that may surface in your company. For instance, a chemical processing plant should have a statement in place for the inevitable spill and the reaction afterwards as well as a cruise liner for an accident at sea (or the more typical food borne illness).
Communicate early and often.
When tragedy strikes, all eyes are on the company. Having your prepared standby statements ahead of time, along with some last-minute customizations to finalize them, will help you in being early. When the communication environment is void of any official comments from company officials, media will turn elsewhere to fill the void, where you have no control over what is said.
Prepare for the crisis — you’ll likely get through it with a better outcome for all involved.