Learning how to effectively manage and communicate during an emergency or a crisis is essential for the success of each organization. A well-developed crisis communications plan can make the process smoother and help guide the leadership and staff of an organization through a potential crisis. Even though in most organizations only a few people are authorized to talk to the media, crisis communications is a team effort and it is extremely important that all employees are familiar with the crisis communications plan so that they can assist the crisis communications team if needed.

What is the purpose of a crisis communications plan? Ideally, a crisis communications plan should clearly define your goals, objectives, and actions before, during, and after a crisis. It should also provide specific guidelines and instructions for communicating during emergencies.

Before a Crisis:

Anticipation is key when it comes to crisis management. Begin by identifying the types of crises that your organization is most likely to face and determine what policies might be put into place to prevent them. Then, identify your crisis communications team and provide them with training to make sure that they have the skills that they need to successfully manage a crisis if it occurs.

During a Crisis:

When a crisis actually happens, begin by assessing its magnitude. Not all bad events turn into crises. Carefully assess the situation and determine its impact on those involved. This will help you identify what resources you will need and what your next steps should be.

Tip: If time allows, conduct a SWOT analysis to determine your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

After a Crisis:

Review your crisis management plan and determine what worked well and what didn’t. Identify any areas for improvement and strategies that could have been done better.

Remember that there is always place for improvement and that each crisis could be turned into an opportunity for growth if handled effectively.