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5 Things Every Crisis Communications Team Needs

No matter how well your company is run, there will always be things you can’t control: Security breaches. Litigation. Accidents. Employee misconduct. Customer disputes. Weather emergencies. Labor issues. Product recalls.

There’s actually an 80 percent chance in any five-year window a company will lose 20 percent of its value, researchers have found.

And yet only 43 percent of marketing executives said their companies have a crisis response plan in place, according to a survey by Mower and B2B Magazine.

How you handle the crisis will determine the severity and duration of the damage to your company’s reputation. You need the right team in place—with the right tools—to respond immediately.

Here are five things every crisis communications team needs:

  1. A representative from every company function. You need a small number of battlefield commanders empowered to act quickly—people with the skills and background to assess the situation. If each decision requires a lengthy review from a bigger group, the crisis will sprint ahead before you take your first step.
  2. Advanced training. You want to be ready for anything and everything. No crisis follows the same path. Crisis simulations and media training help the team identify possible problems and decide how to respond to different scenarios. The training ensures your company will be proactive instead of reactive.
  3. Regularly scheduled meetings. The team should meet frequently to review crisis communication procedures and what-ifs. Evaluate potential problems or brewing crises in order to get in front of them. Part of these meetings can include learning from mistakes others have made. The best way to manage a crisis is by preventing it.
  4. An arsenal of facts and endorsements. When a crisis hits, you may not immediately know all the answers, but when you announce you’re investigating, you can maintain credibility by listing inspections you’ve passed, positive feedback you’ve received from regulators and other helpful context. This helps reassure people your company is responsible and trustworthy.
  5. A framework for how the legal staff and the communications team can work together. Lawyers often want to stay silent during a crisis, while PR professionals understand responding quickly and publicly is crucial. History has shown it’s possible to show empathy without taking legal responsibility. Have those discussions now so when a crisis hits, you can win in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.

Mower has guided Fortune 500 companies, professional athletes and other businesses through a range of crises—from environmental mistakes and data breaches to legal violations and allegations of racism. We can help you prepare for and navigate a crisis so you can return to business as usual as quickly as possible.

Pete is our Director of Reputation Management. His contact information: psmolowitz@mower.com, 704.916.6163. Or connect with him on LinkedIn.