Crisis Communications: What To Do First

Posted by Mitchell Communications Group on November 30, 2012

For communications professionals, a crisis is a defining moment. It’s the time when you show the world what kind of organization you represent. Unfortunately, crises can happen to anyone at any time; but it’s how you respond that makes all the difference.

For every type of crisis – including instances of accidental death, business fraud, natural disasters or highly publicized lawsuits, for example -- there will be specific people who are most affected. In an accidental death, the family, friends and colleagues of the victim are most deeply affected. With business fraud, it might be the public, your shareholders, your employees, your leadership team.

Your first step is to determine who is most affected and make sure you are doing everything you can to help and communicate with the people who need to hear from you.

Making people the priority
A good rule for any crisis is to put people first. Determine who is most affected and find out what’s being done to help them. Your first communications priorities are to let the world know how your organization is trying to help those affected by the crisis. This will also be the first question from any interested stakeholders: What are you doing to help?

This might seem obvious. But when a crisis happens, there is always some degree of chaos. Many people will be clamoring for many things at the same time. Everything may seem equally important, but it’s not.

Communications professionals can help prioritize by putting the focus on people and making sure they are placed at the top of the list. We can help our organizations live out their values and put those values into action, at a time when it matters most.

What are some steps you’ve taken when handling a communications crisis? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.