A PR crisis is inevitable and unavoidable — it’s not if it will happen but when. We see it every day — United Airlines viral video nightmare, McDonald’s rogue twitter employee — the list goes on and on.

And while a potential crisis lurks around every corner, many organizations fail to plan ahead and find themselves flat-footed and flailing to respond to the situation. Or worse, they had a plan but let their crisis communications strategy molder on a shelf or in a computer file.

Not updating your crisis plan regularly is almost like not having one at all, and it can leave you both surprised and unprepared when a crisis strikes. If you haven’t updated yours recently, start the New Year right by following these tips on how to update your crisis communications plan.

Include Social Media

If you haven’t updated your crisis communications plan in a few years, you may need to create or update your social media section. Utilizing social media to communicate with key publics is essential in our 24/7 media landscape, and it’s the first place they’ll look for up-to-date information. If you’re looking for best practices, check out these brands that did it right.

Update Contact Information

Any effective crisis plan should identify and designate a crisis communications team. It should include executives and employees with operations, quality assurance, human resources and communications experience. If your staff has changed since you last updated your plan, you should reassign roles and update contact information.

Find New Scenarios

If your crisis communications plan included potential crisis scenarios — and it definitely should — you need to revisit them to see if they’re still relevant. If not, get creative and brainstorm the potential crisis scenarios that are most likely to impact your operations or reputation today. Discuss the best way to address your different risk scenarios — a social media blunder won’t be treated the same as a natural disaster.

Practice

While it’s important to update contact information, reassign roles and update your phone tree, it’s also important that each new employee understands what to do in a crisis. A crisis requires all hands on deck, especially top executives, so hold a team practice session to discover how they’d fare if a crisis strikes. Remember, practice makes perfect!

The best way to manage and weather a crisis is to have a plan in place before it ever happens. If your organization doesn’t have a plan, you need one … now! Done right, crisis communications can show your customers and stakeholders that you’re competent and value people over profit. Done wrong, it can do irreversible damage to your hard-earned reputation.

Is your organization prepared if a crisis strikes tomorrow? If not, we’d love to help you establish a communications plan that manages your reputation and helps build trust with your key audiences.

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