There was the gruesome death by snowplow at the ski resort parking lot. Accusations of mismanagement at a Washington, D.C. attraction. An executive’s insider trading. Sexual harassment at a private school. Carbon monoxide poisoning at a housing project in Baltimore. And many more crises I have managed over the years.
Each one is as unpredictable as the next. Like the time a giant inflatable baseball blew off the roof of the Baltimore Convention Center and its electric generator struck a man in the head. Yes, that happened and serves as proof that you can’t plan for every what-if scenario. I doubt many corporate crisis PR plans had “global pandemic resulting in economic meltdown” as one of the potential scenarios.
That’s why I always recommend creating three levels or stages when developing a crisis communications plan so you can mobilize the appropriate team members and tools for each one.
Covers routine or “less-serious” situations that might draw attention but would not affect business continuity. For example, a worker falls off a ladder and an ambulance is called to a site. Your communications team needs a process to handle the resulting communications needs.
Defined as a “significant or threshold event” that would most likely attract media attention and require the full attention of communications. An active shooter, a major fire or significant lawsuit fall into this category.
These crises fall under the category of “major event.” Think earthquake, hurricane or coronavirus. A major impact on the business. The threat of loss of life is typically involved.
Finally, no matter which stage or level you plan for, follow these crisis PR reminders to ensure you are prepared:
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