Strategically Speaking: A Blog by Denha Media Group
A chaotic evacuation, a traumatic rescue mission and now a serious crisis communication problem for Carnival Corp.’s Italian unit. It was reported that they cruised off course so someone could wave to a family member and the captain jumped ship before ensuring passengers were safe. One would hope they have a sound crisis communication plan in place.
So you find yourself facing a major public crisis and your company doesn’t have a strategic plan, not even a boilerplate to follow. There are a few things you need to do immediately in order to prevent the crisis from escalating out of control. Your goal is to maintain daily operations while managing the crisis. You need to contain it.
Top 5 steps you must take when a crisis happens.
- Fact Check: Find out immediately what has happened, how it happened and why it happened. Gather all the information you can so you can properly inform the public. If an investigation is pending, then explain in detail what you are able to explain. Do not leave reporters hanging. You not only need to inform the media but other people affected like the family or friends.
- Bullet Point it: Whether you are writing talking points or a press release to the media, outline the facts in a bullet point form so it is easily read and delivered. This will help to explain complicated matters in simple terms.
- Stay informed to keep others informed: Constantly stay on top of the crisis and gather information as it develops. Then turn around and disseminate it to the proper channels. Use your social media outlets such as Twitter, YouTube, Blogs and Facebook to quickly respond to misinformation, accusations and distortions.
- Designate a spokesperson: You need to identify the person who will be the media contact and company spokesperson. This may be two people, one is the contact and one is the spokesperson. Do not have numerous people from the company talking to the media. This person should be well informed about the crisis and comfortable with interviews.
- Plan for questions: Write out all the possible questions you could be asked about the situation and get the information and bullet point the answers so you can easily address them when asked.
Once the crisis has subsided, evaluate the outcome and then devise a sound crisis communications plan that is strategic, detailed and easily followed by the team.
Vanessa Denha Garmo is founder of Denha Media Group.