When planning for crises, an organization should engage all departments, prepare to distribute responsibilities and train to be adaptable. What is also essential is leadership buy-in and comprehension of key messages.
Engaging all departments
Whether an organization is large and made of various departments or very small with few it is important to get everyone’s input. Members of one department may not share the same perspectives and experiences that others do. For example, the customer service department would be able to share issues that the technical department is not aware of and vice versa. Including nuances of experience, background and roles also supports crisis communication adaptability (Coombs & Holladay, 2012). Engaging all departments is also key to everyone being “on the same page,” and it can prevent the spread of fear, innuendo and misinformation during crises (Garcia, 2008).
Leadership team preparation
Leadership should be prepared to take a decentralized approach and distribute roles and responsibilities to all levels and departments of the organization. Leadership should also be prepared by rehearsing the crisis plan with an adaptive approach. Preparing this way will pay off when a crisis hits. First, in promoting a team culture, shared responsibilities can be completed more effectively and efficiently. In crises responding quickly, effectively and efficiently can literally mean the difference between sparing lives and unnecessary loss (Coombs & Holladay, 2012 ).Secondly, training to be adaptive builds experience, confidence, prevents ‘one track’ thinking and promotes creative decision making (Coombs & Holladay, 2012). Although it is critical to plan for crises, everything that will happen during a crisis cannot be planned for so it’s critical to be able to improvise during unplanned situations (Coombs & Holladay, 2012 ).
Leadership buy-in and message comprehension
You can bet that if the leadership has not bought into the crisis plan then the rest of the organization won’t either. Crisis planning is about making changes within an organization and whether or not leadership has confidence in the changes impacts the entire organization, processes, and procedures (Llopis, 2012). Also, if the crisis communication messages are not understood, how will anyone know what to do when it’s time to do it! Furthermore, if the messages are all over the place how will anyone trust them? They won’t and it’ll be a complete fail-any proceeding horrible scenario.
A few best practices in crisis planning is to get everyone’s input, divvy up roles and responsibilities, and incorporate improvisation into training. But all this hard work will mean absolutely nothing if leadership does not have confidence in the plan nor understands it. That is only a recipe for complete disaster when a crisis hits.
Coombs.T. W., Hollady, S. J (2012) The handbook of crisis communication. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Malden, MA
Garcia, T. (2008, Nov 03). Internal comms is key amid financial crisis. PRweek, 11, 6. Retrieved fromhttp://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/232019918?accountid=3783
Llopis, G (2012, November 5) 5 most effective ways to sell change. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2012/11/05/5-most-effective-ways-to-sell-change/#678778393dd7