GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

When it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”…

GroundFloor Media (GFM) had the opportunity to partner with The Castle Group last week to conduct a social media crisis simulation for a private liberal arts college in the Northeast. We run several of these exercises for clients throughout the year, and I always end up being reminded of or learning a few things in the process. Following are a few crisis communication tips that are top of mind after the latest Online War Room® simulation. Hopefully, they will be helpful to you, too…

Planning is Key. I can’t think of a business out there that couldn’t anticipate at least a couple of issues/crises that are likely to play out in their not-so-distant future. By taking some time to map out those situations specific to your business – whether it’s a food-borne illness at a restaurant, a gunman on campus or an unanticipated outcome at a hospital – you can walk through topline key messages and how your organization would handle both internal and external communications. It’s definitely not a fun exercise to undertake, but it really helps when an issue or crisis does arise, since it won’t be the first time you’ve thought about.

Redundancy is Crucial. If you rely solely on email to communicate with your employees, what will you do when the electricity – and therefore your Internet access – is down for an extended period of time? If you plan to communicate with the public through your website during a crisis, what will you do when you cannot update it? Consider having multiple ways to reach your various audiences. If you rely heavily on the Internet, consider having a back-up satellite system to provide Internet access for key employees. If you only communicate with employees by email, consider having a back-up system to distribute text messages or even voicemail messages. And that back-up generator you’ve been considering may be well worth the investment.

Backup Staff Could Save the Day. In an extended crisis situation, your A-team will eventually need to be relieved. Think about that in advance and determine who will back up your first responders in each critical role. Give some thought to how long shifts should be and stick to your recommendations. People can run on adrenaline for 24, even 36 hours; however, their decision-making skills will eventually be compromised by lack of sleep and stress. Giving them the opportunity to recharge could be critical to your success in navigating a crisis.

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