Zehnder Communications, Inc.

New Year Brings New Opportunity for Crisis Planning

The business world has seen its share of PR crises erupt and the damage they inflict on brands. No company is immune to disaster, including yours. Even if your business doesn’t have a formal crisis plan yet, taking a few key steps now provides the foundation for preventing serious reputational damage.

New Year Brings New Opportunity for Crisis Planning

Zehnder’s crisis communications experts identified six essential steps to take right now.

  1. Designate a crisis team. This fundamental step that saves valuable time. Members typically include the C suite, legal counsel, marketing/communications managers and managers of divisions involved. The team should include a designated spokesperson for potential media outreach and inquiries. Members should have access to each other around the clock and contingencies for vacations, extended leave, travel, etc.
  2. Define your audiences. Define both internal and external stakeholders. Identify the channels you would use to reach them – email, social media, your website, etc. – and have a procedure for regularly updating those contacts and platforms. Develop your own media list of contact information for relevant reporters.
  3. “Own” your social media channels. Cultivating followers is not feasible or appropriate when a crisis is unfolding. Own your channels by keeping your content fresh and engaging your audience. Who are you following? Who are the influencers, stakeholders and media following you? This becomes crucial knowledge in a crisis.
  4. Mitigate existing threats. One of the best ways to manage a disaster is avoiding it in the first place. Your company should encourage a mindset of identifying risks and eliminating or reducing them. Issues like cybersecurity, natural disasters and ones specific to your industry should be reviewed.
  5. Develop holding statements. You already know the kinds of crises that are most likely to affect your company. Use them to sketch out potential responses to your audiences including the media. These holding statements, as they’re known, provide a framework for working out messaging before crisis hits, saving time and giving you more control with the media narrative as the situation unfolds.
  6. In a crisis, it’s strategy, not tactics. Every crisis exists within a unique context and can unfold in unpredictable ways. Your strategic approach is key, because it sets the tone, direction and goals for the duration of the crisis. One of your first priorities is identifying how your brand could be threatened.  

What you do before a crisis can have a huge effect on your ability to manage the next one that strikes. For more ideas about preparing for crises, get in touch with Zehnder at

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