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How to Create a Crisis Communications Plan

August 20, 2020
How to Create a Crisis Communications Plan

Even the hospitality industry’s most well-prepared businesses didn’t have a crisis communications plan in place to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic when it reached their communities. SiPP Communications’ clients and businesses across the industry prepared for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, social disruptions, security emergencies and more, but a global pandemic that would literally bring the whole world to a standstill? Now that is a new one!

Now that we know it is possible, it is time to go back and update our crisis communications plans to ensure we are better prepared going forward. If you don’t already have a crisis plan in place, now is the time to create one. 

Read on for our team at SiPP Communication’s step-by-step guide to creating your own: 

Plan for a Crisis Before it Hits

The best time to plan for an emergency is before an emergency strikes. Get creative as you brainstorm the various types of crises that you may need to deal with in the future. These scenarios will serve as the outline for your crisis communications plans.

Identify Key Audiences 

For each of these crisis situations, consider: who is your audience? This can include customers with upcoming reservations, past clients, local or regional residents, but consider non-traditional audiences as well. They could include employees, partners, stakeholders, or anyone who will need to be updated on the situation as it develops. 

For each of these identified audiences in your crisis communications plan, define their areas of concern and how to reach them, should the need arise. For example, a hotel client with an upcoming reservation will need to know if the property will need to close its doors for a period of time. In most cases, the reservation is likely linked to an email address, so you’ll want to have an email template ready to update and send.

Establish Spokespeople, Responsibilities and Key Media Outlets

In your crisis communications document, you’ll want to have a pre-established plan of who will be responsible for each action that needs to be completed. 

Having these roles pre-determined will ensure valuable time isn’t wasted in the moment. 

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Likewise, consider what media your audience consumes. Are they likely to watch television, read the newspaper or browse blogs? You’ll want to keep a list of what media outlets will be able to deliver your updates to your key audiences. 

It may be difficult to identify the correct contact before an emergency occurs, but if you know which outlets to target, you can quickly gather the person assigned to that beat when the time comes.

Define Useful Messages

In the midst of a crisis, not all information is created equal. You may see competitors or related brands putting out statements, but don’t say something for the sake of making a public statement. That could just be adding to confusion and messaging noise. 

Before publishing your own statement, ask yourself what kind of information will be useful right now? This statement can direct the public to a landing page that rounds up all relevant information, a distribution list sign-up page to receive updates or logistical details like evacuation routes, new business hours and updated policies. Be sure to update this information early and often.

Practice Makes Perfect

On a regular basis – or at least once a year – go through your crisis communications plan and see if there are any areas that need to be edited or revised. As media platforms change or as the business evolves, adjustments may need to be made. It is always better to catch those changes before a crisis hits. 

If you need any guidance or advice in this process, the team at SiPP Communications is always available to work with you on the development of an effective crisis communications plan. See how our team can help you save time, money and even your reputation by contacting us.