I recently completed a project for a global chemical company concerning their crisis communication manual. They felt that the manual was inadequate in some areas, potentially leaving them open to reputation damage as a result of a poor response, or even no response at all, in the case of an incident. I reviewed the crisis communication manual and found that, on the one hand, it provided detail and procedures that would be very helpful for the company’s country management teams and corporate management team, once the incident had been escalated to this level. On the other hand, it was obvious that it would be of very little use to the management teams at the company’s manufacturing sites; exactly those people who would be in the front line if a crisis should occur. There was virtually no guidance for them on what to do if the media turned up at their site in the aftermath of an incident, opening up the possibility of inappropriate responses, or a “no comment” by default.
Handy crisis communication guide developed
The company asked me to develop a short, practical, easy-to-use guide that site management teams would be able to consult if an incident should occur at their site. Critical success factors were that the emergency response guide should:
- Provide useful guidelines to help them deal with crisis communications professionally until expert assistance could be mobilised.
- Present the information in an easy-to-use format, including for example handy lists, flow charts, forms, etc.
I created a 14-page crisis communication guide customised to the organisation’s structure and ways of working. It included:
- A “First Five Minutes” action plan.
- Essential do’s and don’ts when talking with the media, including what to do if you get doorstepped.
- Template media statements covering likely scenarios.
- Essential forms such as a media log.
The client was delighted with the guide and asked me to incorporate it into the main crisis communication manual, making some improvements to the original manual in the process. In addition, we highlighted the importance of media training and introduced our media training and crisis communication training courses.
- To see how your crisis communication manual and emergency response processes could be improved.
- To find out about our media or crisis communication training courses.