Most people aren’t glued to their phones tracking crisis situations. But me? I always check my phone every time I get an alert. Among our PR team members at Well Done Marketing, we have a combined 19 years of crisis communication experience and therefore are always weirdly excited to talk about it.
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any crises. Unfortunately, no industry or public-facing organization is immune, which is why it’s so important for PR pros to be well-versed on the topic and for companies to have a plan on file. When I declared my major in public relations, I came to peace with the fact that crisis communication would undoubtedly be in my wheelhouse.
Always be prepared
As we continuously search for positive news coverage opportunities for our clients, we know that at any moment, we may have to flip the switch to crisis communication mode. That could mean communicating about emergency situations or protecting a client’s reputation.
Recently, the Well Done public relations team conducted a crisis communication workshop for one of our clients. The company wanted to offer employees the opportunity to learn how to further develop crisis communication plans.
Planning to plan for the plan
All of us have been to day-long workshops that leave you feeling like you’ve been talked at for 4-6 hours. My goal? Present the information in a meaningful way and give participants time to interact and learn from one another. In designing this workshop, I wanted to ensure there were multiple opportunities for discussion, question-and-answer sessions, and individual and small-group work throughout the day.
Taking into consideration there is usually a range of communication experience in the room for these types of workshops, we started at square one just to be safe with:
- What is (and isn’t) crisis communication?
- What are the goals of the communication?
- Why is it necessary to have a set plan in place?
We guided attendees through several exercises that mirrored the steps of creating an organizational plan so they could walk away with the tools necessary to update their own plans and train team members. We helped them identify their core team members, define team responsibilities, determine the response levels for public relations crises they may encounter, craft external messaging, execute role-playing scenarios, and evaluate the responses.
So, survey says…
A workshop is only as good as the participants think it is, so we sent a post-workshop survey to see how we did.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents thought the components (sessions, materials, etc.) were helpful and that they felt comfortable managing a crisis, compared to 40% from the pre-workshop survey. In addition, all participants said they would implement various aspects of what they learned into their plans. We certainly had fantastic, productive group conversations and felt like we helped facilitate learning amongst the employees.
We said it many times during that workshop, and we’ll surely say it again—crisis communication doesn’t have to be the big scary thing we think it is. As long as you have a solid plan in place, you can tackle any one of those alerts that come in on your phone. Interested in talking through your crisis communication plan? Let’s connect in person—feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.