Having a Crisis Plan Before the Crisis

Dallas PR, Dallas public relations, Dallas crisis firm, Dallas media relations The best time to fix a leaking roof, the old saw goes, is when the sun is shining.

The same holds true for crisis communications.

The best time to prepare for a crisis is… when there is no crisis.

Convincing clients of this truth is sometimes another matter.

It’s certainly easy to understand. When things are going well, we tend to think, or hope, the good times will continue. We postpone pondering “what if.”  We get swept up in the tidal wave of happiness. Magical thinking, perhaps.

Then the unexpected happens, sometimes, cruelly, late Friday afternoon.

And our client is suddenly scrambling to find out what actually happened to cause the crisis. They’re trying to answer questions from the media, from customers, employees and regulators.  They’re trying to run the business while seeking legal counsel. And they’re calling us in a panic.

Having a crisis communications plan helps stem the panic. Developed months ago, in good times on a sunny day, the plan outlines who says what to whom and when. It designates a command team. It includes many types of up-to date lists, from internal contacts to government officials. The plan has templated statements and company fact sheets. It specifies an alternate site for operations if the headquarters location isn’t usable. And on and on.

Point is, the thinking and work behind a crisis communications plan have been completed when there is no crisis, when there’s time to carefully, thoughtfully address dozens of questions and considerations.

The absence of a plan compounds the difficulty when a crisis hits. Trying to determine what to do, what to say and what materials are needed — most of which could have been set out in advance, the company loses valuable time in responding. It could be seen as stalling, as unresponsive, as hiding something.

In a crisis, we advise clients to tell the truth, to tell it quickly, and to tell everything. A crisis communications plan makes these actions possible. A plan enables a company to put its best foot forward, even in a stumble.

Best time to create the plan?

Now.

On a sunny day.

We’re Talkin’ Texas, y’all,

Barbara Hyman

Hopkins PR is a public relations firm with offices in Dallas and Austin.  We can do everything from crisis communications to media training to traditional media relations. We focus on “Texas PR by Texans in Texas.”  

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