Business Communication Plan

Business Communication Plan-55
The days of playing ostrich – burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away – are gone.You can try, but your stakeholders will not be understanding or forgiving because they’ve watched what happened with Volkswagen, Chipotle, FIFA, and Lance Armstrong. When I look at existing crisis management-related plans while conducting a vulnerability audit (the first step in crisis preparedness), what I often find is a failure to address the many communications issues related to crisis or disaster response.

The days of playing ostrich – burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away – are gone.

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Identify Your Crisis Communications Team A small team of senior executives should be identified to serve as your organization’s Crisis Communications Team.

Ideally, the organization’s CEO will lead the team, with the firm’s top public relations executive and legal counsel as his or her chief advisers.

Spokesperson Training Two typical quotes from well-intentioned executives summarize the reason why your spokespersons should receive professional training in how to speak to the media: Regarding the first example, there have hundreds of people skewered by CBS’ “60 Minutes” or ABC’s “20/20” who thought they knew how to talk to the press.

In the second case, most executives who have attended a hostile public hearing have gone home wishing they had been wearing a pair of Depends.

If your in-house PR executive does not have sufficient crisis communications expertise, he or she may choose to retain an agency or independent consultant with that specialty.

Other team members are typically the heads of your major organizational divisions, as any situation that rises to the level of being a crisis will affect your entire organization.They didn’t learn, in advance, the critical differences between proactive PR, which focuses on promoting your organization, and crisis communications, which focuses on preserving your organization.All stakeholders, internal and external, are just as capable of misunderstanding or misinterpreting information about your organization as the media.Some spokespersons may naturally excel at all forms of crisis communications – traditional media, social media, B2B, internal, etc. Only certain types of highly sensitive crises (e.g., ones involving significant loss of life) virtually mandate the chief executive be the lead spokesperson .The fact is that some chief executives are brilliant organizational leaders but not very effective in-person communicators.There are at least two immediate benefits to this exercise: In some cases, of course, you know a crisis will occur because you’re planning to create it — e.g., to lay off employees, or to make a major acquisition.There is a more formal method of gathering this information I call a “vulnerability audit,” about which information is available here.This includes on-camera, at a public meeting, at employee meetings, etc.You really don’t want to be making decisions about so many different types of spokespersons while “under fire.”4.This assessment process should lead to creating a Crisis Response Plan that is an exact fit for your organization, one that includes both operational and communications components.The remaining steps, below, outline some of the major topics that should be addressed in the communications section of the plan.2.

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