The Crisis Communication Cycle Strategy
Crises are going to happen in your life or the life of your organization. Pick up the newspaper or turn on your TV and you’re reminded of this. Disastrous events can happen in the workplace, in our schools and throughout the community. Is your organization prepared to manage a crisis? You cannot predict what will happen, but you can prepare for its impact.
What if I was to tell you that these situations while being dynamic, living situations, a response to them would generally follow the same cycle. How much more effective would you be when you encounter crises if you already had the map drawn up as to where you were going to go. The creation of a crisis communication strategy should not happen mid-event, this sort of approach is doomed to fail, and your organization might fail alongside it.
The Crisis Communication Cycle Strategy (CCCS) should be decided upon well before the crisis and it should be employed every time you come across a crisis. It allows for a very simple, yet wide reaching approach to issues, that when followed, will cover most of what you may encounter.
It is true that all types of crises affect your organization, but you have a rough idea of what they might consist of. It is important to anticipate and prepare for the ones that you know might come. If you are not sure what you may encounter, take a moment and do an internet search. This is going to reveal issues with your area, and you can create a crisis communication strategy focused on these areas. Even if you encounter something, you did not see coming the prep you did for the areas you knew about would help you make it through.
What is your message? This is the time to tell your story. Like the anticipation step, much of this can be done pre-event. Craft key talking points specific to the situations that you identified as having a high likelihood. Take the time to determine the audiences that need communicated to and how best to reach each of them. When you are constructing your plan do not forget your internal audience. It is vital to keep the information moving to your people, making sure everyone is telling the same story.
Now it is time to watch the situation move and change based on your comments and actions. The work you have done to share the information and move the conversation should be watched to see if it is working. If the strategy is working then great, but if not you need to see what isn’t being communicated correctly and look to go a different direction.
You have watched the story move and change, but it is not where you want it. You need to spend some time evaluating what went well, what went poorly, and what needs to change the next time you communicate. It could be something as simple as your approach, but could be something more. Now is the time to determine the next steps.
Terrible events can happen at any time to anyone. Are you prepared to respond when you or your organization are effected? Is your organization prepared to manage the crisis communication piece? You cannot predict what will happen, but you can prepare for what you know will happen every time.