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Crisis Communication

A plan for crisis or risk communication is a vital component of your organization's overall communications plan. Your agency's response to a real crisis or perceived threat will cement its reputation and define its relationship with the public. The following are a few key concepts to consider when creating your crisis communications plan and conducting a response to a given situation.

Be Prepared

  • Designate a spokesperson in advance and train them in crisis/risk communication
  • Make the spokesperson immediately available to the media, and give the spokesperson talking points to refer to
  • Immediately inform all staff members with the key facts and spokesperson contact information; emphasize what is known and the agency's positive action steps
  • Use your website, social media accounts, and/or a telephone hotline to post updates, text alerts, information, and instructions for the general public

It's All About Trust

  • Tell the truth, if you don't know something, say so
  • Listen to the concerns of the public
  • Get the facts and find the experts
  • Respond as quickly as possible
  • Schedule regular updates throughout the crisis cycle
  • Speak clearly and with compassion
  • Acknowledge uncertainty and fear – put it in context
  • Give people something to do to channel their fear
  • Avoid technical jargon and too much information
  • Be respectful and empathetic
  • Do not attack or fight with any person or group, stay "on message"
  • Tell only what you do know and what you are investigating
  • Do not use humor