If you're an organization that has been thinking about hiring a public relations firm with a background or specialization in crisis management and crisis response, there are a few factors to consider.
Typically, we approach clients in two different phases of crisis.
Some organizations plan ahead and work with a crisis communications public relations firm to develop crisis communications plans and trainings. These crisis communication plans can provide roadmaps for organizations when a crisis hits.
Other organizations turn to a crisis communications PR firm when a crisis strikes and need help with an immediate response.
Crisis Communications PR Firms for Planning and Training
Organizations benefit from a crisis management process that puts a crisis communications plan in place and allows for training and iterative updates.
A crisis communications firm can help you develop crisis communications plans based on different scenarios. Strong crisis communications plans could include goals, a SWOT analysis, crisis teams, placeholder messages and responses, communications channels, and approval processes.
A crisis communications firm can help your organization develop these plans and regularly update them. A crisis communications firm can also help develop and execute table top trainings for your organization's staff and stakeholders to train them in case of a crisis.
These table top trainings will stimulate a crisis situation and require your team to respond as if it was live.
After a training, it's important to do an after action report and update your crisis communications plans accordingly. Planning and training improves an organization's preparedness, helps identify and mitigate gaps in their response, and allows for a faster return to business continuity.
Crisis Communications PR Firms for Immediate Response to a Crisis Situation
Other organizations may engage a crisis communications firm when they encounter a crisis. This does not allow for planning or training, but it is still important to rely on crisis communications experts to guide your response and help business continuity.
During a crisis, time is of the essence. You'll want to work with a firm that is available 24/7 and can respond quickly to emergencies. Make sure to establish clear lines of communication and response times with the firm before signing a contract.
A crisis communications firm will help you quickly develop a crisis communications plan and help guide you through the public response. This may include issuing press releases, identifying a spokesperson, making public statements, updating stakeholders through social media and other communication channels, and engaging with the media to manage the narrative of the crisis.
Throughout the response, it is important for organizations to prioritize transparency and accountability in their crisis communication efforts to maintain trust and credibility with their stakeholders.
No matter when you engage a crisis communications firm, effective crisis communication involves quick, clear, and coordinated messaging that aims to inform and reassure stakeholders, mitigate potential damage to the organization's reputation, and restore confidence in the organization's ability to handle the crisis. Look for a firm with a proven track record of successfully managing crises for clients.
Finally, it's important to find a crisis management firm that is a good fit for your organization's culture and values. You will need to work closely with the firm during a crisis, so it's important to build a positive and trusting relationship early on to help protect your organization's reputation.