What is a Crisis Management Communication Plan?

First of all, what defines crisis management? Crisis management is referred to as the ways in which a certain company determines a threat that may hamper their operations within or their relationship with their stakeholders and investors in order to find ways in which they can mount an effective response to said crises. Different companies can face different types of crises, such as natural disasters, security breaches, or even problems relating to their personnel.

What is a crisis management communication plan? It refers to a business document that outlines a set of steps to prepare a company for an unexpected scenario that may affect its operations on a small or large scale. This document mainly focuses on the company’s response to a crisis and the methods on which it will manage such a crisis and communicate it to its stakeholders. Having this document in hand is an advantage since it guarantees the efficient and secure release of information, and it also helps messaging to be consistent across all platforms of communication.

Parts of a Crisis Management Communication Plan

When drafting a crisis management communication plan, it is important that it should be easily adaptable since you never really know what type of crisis can unfold in your workplace. And when drafting a crisis management communication plan, here are the important elements that you should include:

Risk Analysis. In making the risk analysis part of the communication plan, outline the different types of situations that the company can possibly encounter. This is necessary since having a better idea of these likely crisis situations can help you plan. You do not need to include every possible risk, but you should include a broad variety of examples. This can include security incidents, natural disasters, or a financial crisis.Protocols for Activation. In writing the activation protocol of a crisis management communication plan, be sure to include triggers, as the natural response in a crisis is to do nothing and freeze. Define the situations that trigger a certain crisis reaction using levels of immediacy as your criteria. Also, describe how to elevate that reaction if a problem reveals to be far more critical than it looked to be. The policy should also advise your personnel on how to respond based on the nature or location of the occurrence. Furthermore, the protocol should develop some kind of communication terminology that indicates the conclusion of a crisis.Chain of Command. This part should also be included in drafting the communication plan since it indicates the people who hold the final authority in times of a crisis and who report to whom. A well-written chain of command chart also encourages coordination and consistency within the company during a crisis. Depending on how serious the crisis is, additional layers for a chain of command may be needed.Command Center Plan. In writing this element, determine what will function as the team’s base of operations during a crisis. Also, specify what equipment and services the management team will need. If the primary command center becomes unavailable, you must also establish a backup command center.Response Action Plans. In writing a response action plan for this document, make specific plans for how you will react to various events. This planning involves determining who will be in charge of each job. Consider these response actions to be modular parts that you may use as needed. By conceptualizing crises in this manner, you can make your crisis management strategy more adaptive, which is an essential part of an effective communication plan.External Communication Plan. For this element, having strategies for communicating with the general public and external stakeholders is a good place to start. Also, you may consider designating a spokesman whose role is to deal with external communications. Write specific directions, indicating who you will tell, such as media organizations in a certain geographic region. Also, develop holding statements that you may fill up later after you have the necessary facts in place. Prioritize your strategic communication goals and create a list of talking points. One essential consideration is to ensure that your plans are consistent with previous communication activities.Internal Communication Plan. For an internal communication plan, methods and backup methods for communication within the crisis management team must be in place. And in order for the management team to communicate with each other during the crisis, gather contact information for all team members as well as anybody else they may need to contact, such as outside consultants and subject matter experts. You must also build methods for disseminating urgent information to all staff, such as employing a notification provider to send SMS and automated calls or establishing a means for your staff to check in and report their safety status and locations. Methods of disseminating sensitive information within the crisis management team must also be established. Lastly, having a timeline or timetable is a great addition to internal communications within the management team.Training. It is critical to be able to swiftly execute your crisis management strategy, and performing routine simulations with the crisis management team is critical to achieving that aim. Training or even tabletop exercises can expose problems in the plan, and adequate training will help the crisis team feel comfortable with their various tasks and collaborate. Furthermore, offering training to other staff members depending on their specific roles is a huge advantage.Resources. This section of the crisis management communication plan details everything that the management team will require, such as material resources, personnel resources, or information resources. The latter is especially important in a crisis as the examples can include all kinds of contracts and agreements, such as timelines, flowcharts, benefits, maps, etc.Review. This element of the crisis management communication plan details the necessary procedures for updating the plan and analyzing the subsequent crisis response. This is especially important because as the business or risk environment changes, so should the crisis management plan. Important lessons and any necessary changes should also be included when drafting this part.

Different Types of Crises

Listed and discussed below are some of the different types of crises that you can face in your work environment:

Technological Crisis. This type of crisis happens whenever the tools that your company relies on its operations suddenly fail without warning. Hardware or software failures and industrial accidents are under a technological crisis. Having backup systems that can quickly take over when the main systems fail is a good first step in mitigating the effects of this type of crisis. Professional personnel service to clients and/or stakeholders will also preserve the company’s reputation should this crisis happen.Natural Crisis. When natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, or hurricanes impair a company’s operations, this is referred to as a natural crisis. While most firms can recover rapidly after natural catastrophes, other enterprises, particularly those in the water and power industries, could be badly devastated. To minimize delays from natural disasters, businesses must construct infrastructure that can endure harsh weather and natural catastrophes in the region, as well as develop strategies to bring operations back up as soon as appropriate.Financial Crisis. This type of crisis is when a company suddenly loses an extraordinarily large amount of funds which in turn makes it difficult to pay off the outstanding debts or meet the financial obligations. A financial crisis might impair an organization’s capacity to properly service clients. This sort of occurrence also increases the danger of talent departure, making it critical to be preemptive in crisis management to avoid company destabilization.Malicious Crisis. A malice crisis emerges as a result of unhealthy rivalry or competitiveness. In this form of crisis, a competitor may start a smear campaign against a senior CEO or even a range of products in order to mock a more successful competitor and eventually lose public trust and market share. To prevent rivals from tarnishing your company’s brand, these sorts of situations need legal action, excellent public relations abilities, and professional customer relationship-building.Personnel Crisis. This type of crisis occurs when a member of your business engages in unlawful or unethical activity that harms your company’s public reputation. The problem might be connected to the employee’s behavior at work or in their personal life. The company’s management of the matter is critical, since doing it properly can help them retain a better public image.

Steps in Crisis Management

Every company, no matter how small or big they may be, will always be vulnerable to crises. And effective management of a crisis situation will greatly reduce the impact it can have on the company. With that being said, listed and discussed below are the steps needed to effectively manage a crisis situation.

  • 1. Anticipation

    This is the first step in managing a crisis situation. What it means is that everyone in the company should be adequately prepared and organized. One thing you can do is to arrange an extensive brainstorming session to look over all of the potential disasters that might occur in your organization. Not only may certain scenarios be avoided by simply changing systems, but an efficient evaluation process should also result in the development of a proper crisis response strategy.

  • 2. Create and Test a Plan

    Creating and testing a plan according to what you’ve prepared for would be the next step in managing a crisis. In formulating a plan, keep in mind that it should be customized for your organization and contain both operational and communication components. Also, it is necessary to test the plan that was devised in order to guarantee that the messages included within it are conveyed successfully and with credibility. Most importantly, adopting these steps will guarantee that you can implement your response plan in practice, not just in theory.

  • 3. Identify and Build Your Team

    Once an appropriate response plan has been created and tested, now is the time to identify who comprises your communication team. In this step, keep in mind that your organization’s crisis communications team should be comprised of a small group of senior executives. Preferably, the CEO of the company will lead the team, with the firm’s top public relations officer and legal counsel serving as primary advisers; the size of the team will then be determined by the demands of your organization. This group should establish your company’s communication strategy. Most crucially in this step, ensure that a clear procedure is developed and communicated to your team.

  • 4. Creation of Notification and Monitoring Systems

    After building your team, this is the next step that should be done when managing a crisis. In this step, monitoring stakeholder input during a crisis helps you to precisely change your strategy and methods. Furthermore, your organization should have the ability to communicate with internal and external stakeholders as early as practical.

  • 5. Emphasis on Communication

    This step is probably the most crucial one when it comes to managing a crisis situation. Why? because communication is the fundamental rule of crisis management. Be as transparent as possible. This means to state what you understand and when you become aware of it; clarify who is connected and what steps are being taken to rectify the issue. It is also crucial that when misinformation appears, make certain to correct it as soon as possible.

  • 6. Analysis

    This serves as the final step of managing a crisis situation. Following a crisis, a formal study of what went well, what may be done better next time, and how to enhance various components of your plan will be conducted. This is also another essential task for any crisis communications team. As the crisis is beginning to be brought under control, the company should conduct an assessment concerning how effective its crisis plan was and the effects the incident had on its employees, brands, and reputation.


What part does social media play in a crisis situation?

In today’s time, social media plays a part in almost everything. This includes getting involved in crisis situations, too. For example, a viral film that portrays your company negatively can lead to loads of people forming an unfavorable view of your brand. Luckily, situations like this can be ironed out online. To do this, more people can be deployed to monitor your social channels or update followers with fresh information to lessen the negative consequences of a crisis online. This is especially crucial since all types of information, including incorrect information, may quickly leak into the internet when it comes into the wrong hands.

What is the difference between crisis management and risk management?

Crisis management vastly differs from risk management. This is because risk management refers to preparing for future adverse occurrences that can occur, whereas crisis management entails responding to unfavorable events both during and after they occur.

How important is customer feedback for a crisis situation?

Collecting customer feedback is especially important since it can play a role in preventing a crisis from unfolding. This is due to the fact that customer feedback, as the name suggests, gives information into how customers perceive your company. This helps you to identify key impediments before they become a problem. It also allows consumers to give negative feedback, which you may utilize to enhance the experiences of other customers.

Creating an effective crisis management communication plan is essential since it enables effective decision making which in turn will alleviate the adverse effects of a crisis situation. Also, taking swift action may be the key to the future of the company if it ever undergoes a crisis. Should you need help in making one, this article contains examples of a crisis management communication plan that you can download and use as a guide.