The Essential Gable PR Crisis Communications Checklist
TAKING CHARGE IN THE CRITICAL FIRST 24 HOURS
The following crisis PR checklist has been developed and refined over more than three decades of managing successful crisis PR and issues management programs. This includes helping clients prepare for a future crisis that may never occur, conduct regular rehearsals of crisis PR plans, launching programs immediately when the triggering alert is issued and taking charge within the first 24 hours.
The latter – the need to take control immediately – led to creating this essential crisis PR checklist. The list is incorporated into many crisis PR communications plans for our clients and included in several international crisis PR books.
All Gable PR programs are fact-based, crisis or otherwise. Our clients have worked hard to build strong reputations over time. We assume that they not only do things right, but do the right things in their communities and in their organizations. From those strong foundations, crisis PR teams move quickly to mobilize for a successful conclusion. In any crisis communications situation, three basic principles should guide your actions:
One – Be honest and stick to the facts. Do not speculate, hypothecate or exaggerate. Those impacted by the crisis deserve nothing less – and your reputation may be damaged irreparably if you aren’t truthful and authentic.
Two – Think strategically about the long-term. It is too easy to be reactionary, get caught up in the grinding short-term pressures of the situation and scurry to respond to those demanding answers from every quarter. What do you stand for? What are your core values? Are your responses to the crisis consistent with these values? How will your actions today be viewed a year from now? Five years from now?
Three – Maintain unified and consistent communications during implementation of your plan. Nothing will erode your credibility faster than conflicting messages coming from different sources within your organization (be aware that the media – and class action attorneys in some cases – will pursue every angle in search of controversy, unethical behavior or criminal intent).
Most major organizations create crisis plans in advance of need, update regularly, create tools and tactics (hidden Web sites, video, audio, fact sheets, media kits) and even rehearse their responses. The better job you do before a crisis strikes – or at the beginning of the crisis should you not have a plan in place – the better the result. As a starting point for creating your own plan, here is a detailed checklist to guide your organization through the essential elements required. Depending on each crisis, some areas may require more research, planning and action than others. Assemble your crisis team and click on the PDF link to see the Gable PR check list for your action plan for success.