This step of Ready Business provides direction for developing a crisis communications plan.
Understanding the audiences that a business needs to reach during an emergency is one of the first steps in the development of a crisis communications plan. The crisis communication or business continuity plan should include documented procedures for notification of suppliers. Communications with government officials depends upon the nature and severity of the incident and regulatory requirements. Human Resources (HR) is responsible for the day-to-day communications with employees regarding employment issues and benefits administration.
Another important element of the crisis communications plan is the need to coordinate the release of information.
Another important goal of the crisis communications plan is to move from reacting to the incident, to managing a strategy, to overcome the incident. The crisis communications team, consisting of members of the management team, should operate in an office environment to support the contact and information centers. During a crisis, you have to be able to effectively communicate to all your stakeholders about the situation and keep them regularly updated.
One of the first things you need to do following a crisis is determine the goal of your crisis response. In order to communicate effectively during a crisis, you have to consider the various stakeholders for your business. Before you begin work on your crisis communication plan, make sure that you have clear information and understanding of the crisis or rumour.
The risk assessment process should identify scenarios that would require communications with stakeholders. Also think about possible alliances outside your usual contacts who could add their expertise or support; for example, an organization that might fund aspects of your communication strategy such as printing leaflets, or a scientific journalist who might write an evidence-based article counteracting unfounded information arising from a rumour.


Lists should be updated regularly, secured to protect confidential information and available to authorized users at the emergency operations center or an alternate location for use by members of the crisis communications team. Don’t make one person or one department solely responsible for crisis communications. Existing information such as customer, supplier and employee contact information may be exportable from existing databases. Communicate the policy to all employees explaining that it is best to speak with one informed voice. Management needs to develop the strategy and the crisis communications team needs to implement that strategy by allaying the concerns of each audience and positioning the organization to emerge from the incident with its reputation intact. Thus, when businesses need to communicate following a crisis, they are often communicating with groups they do not know very well. Communication in the context of a vaccine-related crisis follows the same steps as any other planning process, but because of the urgency of the situation, compressed time scales apply and you must be able to implement the plan quickly.
Employees from multiple departments may be assigned to communicate with a specific audience. However, there are some strategies that can assist you in responding effectively to a crisis. This lack of familiarity exists because the business has not established any prior relationships and has no base for the communication. Think of who is best positioned to support you in developing and implementing your crisis communication plan. Professionals working in your post marketing surveillance system may be well positioned to resolve a crisis swiftly by providing facts and information and supporting the communication. HR should also coordinate communications with those involved with the care of employees and the provision of benefits to employees and their families. And after being told to stay home, other employees blasted their employers on social media outlets because they assumed they would be required to take a vacation day to cover the absence.


Employees want to feel valued, and asking them to provide feedback will further improve communications and morale. If you have not formed a partnership with stakeholders prior to a crisis, the communication following one can be quite awkward and often ineffective.
Remember that communication is not an isolated exercise, but part of a broader action plan for handling the crisis.
This presentation outlines key things you should do to prepare for all types of potential crises and provides a simple action plan towards completing a preliminary crisis communications plan. Your business should be able to implement its crisis communications plan from anywhere using simple technology that’s readily available.
Close coordination between management, company spokesperson, public agencies and HR is needed when managing the sensitive nature of communications related to an incident involving death or serious injury. Using this input, the crisis communications team can inform management about the issues that are being raised by stakeholders. Therefore, it is crucial that you be proactive and establish strong, positive relationships with all your stakeholders before a crisis arises.
The case study will illustrate how the death of a girl less than an hour after receiving HPV vaccine at school was handled and a crisis in public confidence in the vaccine in the UK was averted.
All of these “audiences” will want information before the business has a chance to begin communicating.
Notification requirements specified in regulations should be documented in the crisis communications plan. In turn, management should provide input into the messages generated by the crisis communications team.



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Comments

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