Crisis communications can get complicated especially if you are in the midst of a crisis situation. It's important to think about crisis communications and crisis management proactively so you are prepared to protect your brand and reputation.
"If you aren’t proactive, expect to be reactive eventually."
I saw this quote recently regarding health and exercise, but it also applies to communications, especially crisis communications. Your proactive planning process can help ensure business continuity and crisis mitigation.
Community Building, Brand Management, and Proactive Public Relations
All organizations need a lane of proactive communications that builds goodwill amongst their audiences. It would help if you did not wait until a crisis or a problem before talking with your target audiences, whether customers, employees, investors, or the media.
Identify the target audience
The first step to building a community is identifying the desired target audience. The audience could be anyone interested in the brand, product, or service that the organization provides. Your first step in developing a public relations and communications plan is identifying your target audience. Who do you want to reach with your message? Once you have identified your target audience, you can tailor your message to their needs and interests.
Develop brand awareness
The next step is developing brand awareness by creating a positive company image through PR activities such as media relations, social media campaigns, paid media, events, and sponsorship.
Position the company as an expert
Positioning the company as an expert in the industry can help foster trust and position the company as a source of useful information and knowledge that can help the community grow.
Build relationships with stakeholders
Building a community requires relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, and other industry experts. You can build relationships through engagement on social media, event participation, surveys, and other forms of communication.
A community you build on shared values and interests is more likely to grow and thrive. Therefore, it is essential to emphasize the company's values and mission to bring like-minded people together.
Encourage two-way communication
Encouraging two-way communication to foster a sense of belonging and engagement is essential through social media, content, and other forms of communication.
Finally, measuring the success of community-building efforts through metrics such as engagement rates, follower growth, and conversions is essential.
Crisis Management Planning and Crisis Communications Training
Being proactive also means planning and training for the worst. The most prepared organizations have crisis communications plans that they are constantly fine-tuning and using in tabletop training.
Identify and Mitigate Risks
Your organization must take a proactive approach to risk management and identifying potential threats before they occur. It also means fostering a culture of communication and transparency within the organization so everyone knows potential issues and can work together to address them quickly and effectively. Additionally, it means being open to feedback and continuously improving processes and procedures to minimize risk and reinforce a strong organizational culture. By being proactive in these areas, organizations can reduce the likelihood of crises occurring and be better equipped to handle them when they do.
Understand Roles and Responsibilities
Every team member must know how to execute the plan and their role when a crisis strikes, including understanding the overall strategy, identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities, and knowing the tasks and responsibilities assigned to them during a crisis. Additionally, team members must have access to and be familiar with relevant documentation, protocols, and emergency contacts to facilitate a coordinated response. By preparing in advance and working together as a cohesive team, businesses can mitigate the impact of a crisis and quickly return to normal operations.
Develop Crisis Communications Plans
It's impossible to make that up on the fly, and if you don't have a plan, it will compound any crisis you have. Developing a crisis management plan allows you to anticipate potential issues, identify key stakeholders, and outline steps to take during a crisis. Your plan should include clear communication protocols, including who will be responsible for communicating with the media, employees, and customers. It should also outline steps to mitigate the impact of the crisis on your business operations and finances. Having a plan in place can reduce the likelihood of making reactive decisions that may worsen the situation. You will also have a clear roadmap to follow.
Conduct Crisis Training
Ongoing training will help your team identify and mitigate organizational vulnerabilities before damaging the organization. By regularly training employees on policies and procedures, organizations can reduce the risk of human error and strengthen their overall ability to respond. Regular training ensures all team members are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies. Think about how you can be proactive now, whether it is your planning, training, or community building, because you don't want to be reactive at the worst moment.