We’ve all been there: It’s 4 p.m. on a Friday, and you are about to sign off for the weekend when the unexpected happens. For those in leadership roles, these unexpected situations can majorly impact your organization.
Maybe many of your customers were the subject of a data breach. Maybe a board member was overheard making a comment that does not align with your organization’s values. Or maybe your company is being asked to respond to social unrest in your community.
Regardless of your crisis, being able to communicate and manage the situation effectively is imperative to mitigating any potential reputational harm.
There’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. Our experience with clients of all sizes and across all industries provides the foundation for immediate action based on proven, successful practices.
Crisis management definition: What is crisis?
Crisis management is the process by which organizations prepare for and respond to events that may cause harm to their reputation, stakeholders, or the public. Effective crisis management requires timely and factual responses, to minimize the negative impacts of the situation.
Read more about the importance of crisis management, and the key crises to be prepared for here.
How to create a crisis communications plan
It is nearly impossible to predict every possible crisis and response strategy, but certain situations may be possible to anticipate and plan for. Taking time now to consider specific scenarios you could face (or have previously encountered) as part of your crisis communications planning will make up for the time you don’t have when the situation does occur. Don’t wait until an issue happens to figure out how to address it.
The following steps are key to developing a crisis communications plan:
- Establish internal processes and protocols
- Define the crisis communications team
- Create guidelines and questions for assessing the situation and taking action
- Identify the critical stakeholders and when/how they should be notified
- Develop core messages and templates
- Select a spokesperson
Understanding the role of social media in crisis management
Is your crisis spreading like wildfire? It’s tricky business to subdue the spread of information. While social media can be a powerful tool in providing necessary information in times of crisis, it can also inflame an already volatile situation. If you act promptly and accordingly, you can often address the spread. At the same time, responding too quickly – without gathering all the facts first – can exacerbate the situation. Do you know what to consider while navigating a crisis online? Here are five Castle tips:
- Monitor regularly
- Make a plan
- Gather all information, then respond
- Take action, not silence
- Use social media as two-way communication
Check out insight into each tip here.
Tips for crisis communications: How to work with the media while in crisis
Are you a lab that could one day see a chemical issue? A school that could have a video go viral in the worst way? A healthcare or financial organization that could be targeted by ransomware? Castle’s crisis communications experts can help you to prepare for possible crisis scenarios specific to your organization. If the worst happens, here are five tips to help you confidently and effectively deal with the media and your key stakeholders – watch the video below or read the full blog here.
Hear from our crisis team
Tips for external business communication
Are you grappling with whether to speak out on an issue? Organizations are regularly and repeatedly asked by consumers, employees, stakeholders, and the public: “Where do you stand on this?” One simple question with many not-so-simple answers.
How and when an organization chooses to communicate about external societal issues with its audiences is among the most important scenarios that we help our clients think through.
Here are a few tips we use to help guide our clients through these challenging decisions.
- Assess the situation
- Be clear about your company’s values
- Know your audience
- You don’t have to be first…but you don’t want to be last
- Don’t decide based solely on emotion…but listen to your gut
For more in-depth insights, read the full blog here.
Crisis management situational examples
We’ve navigated many high-profile crisis situations for clients across numerous industries, including education, nonprofit, healthcare, real estate, technology, and financial services, among others. Here are examples of our work – click here to read about each engagement:
- Contract Dispute & Intellectual Property for Technology & Security Company
- Racial Equity & Social Justice for Numerous Education Clients
- Patient Safety at Healthcare Facilities
- Proactive crisis planning for Small Private College
Crisis communication examples from 2023
As any PR consultant will tell you, every crisis is different. Each situation contains unique elements, although the broad strokes are similar. Like crises that arrive close to one another can be a sign of the times—indicators of issues being covered in the media or raised by shareholders and board members because they represent heightened awareness.
If only to be prepared for a situation that hopefully never arises at your own organization, it’s essential to keep an eye on crises being talked about by major media and the public. On the blog, David Tanklefsky covers three issues we’ve kept an eye on for our clients in 2023:
- Silicon Valley Bank Collapse
- School Culture Wars
- Data Breaches
Read the details here.
The importance of reputation audits in higher education
Nobody likes surprises, especially when they come at what is supposed to be an exciting time. The announcement of commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients is a positive moment for colleges. However, these announcements can often turn into nightmare situations that are equally avoidable and embarrassing.
You’ve seen this scenario play out repeatedly: A speaker or honorary degree is announced with great enthusiasm, complete with an official news release, social media, and media blitz. Excitement typically follows, along with some initial grumblings. It’s quiet for a few days, or even weeks. Then the real noise starts. Maybe it’s the discovery of a questionable tweet or “like” from five years ago. Maybe it’s a little-known affiliation with a controversial organization. Or maybe it’s a personal belief or position on a social, intellectual, or political issue that isn’t in line with what the institution and community stands for.
Nine times out of 10 this nightmare can be avoided if institutions simply take the time to appropriately vet speaker candidates and potential honorary degree recipients. To understand what a true audit entails, keep reading.
Choosing the best crisis communications firm
“I wish I wasn’t talking to you,” and “I hope I never have to call you.”
As you might imagine, these are two familiar refrains we often hear when talking with leaders and organizations for the first time. The conversations can typically be separated into two buckets – they either have an immediate need for crisis communications support or may need assistance at some point in the future.
But how do you choose the best crisis communications firm for your business? While there’s no hard and fast rule or flowchart to lead you to the right answer, we recommend you look for a team that [has]…
- Listens first, then asks questions
- Calm confidence
- You Trust
Get the full description here.
Looking for a crisis communications firm or for help with a crisis? Work with Castle’s crisis team
It is nearly impossible to predict every possible crisis and response strategy – not many businesses had “pandemic” in their crisis management plans before 2020 – but certain situations may be possible to anticipate and plan for. Taking time now to consider specific scenarios you could face (or have previously encountered) as part of your crisis communications planning will make up for the time you don’t have when the situation does occur. Don’t wait until an issue happens to figure out how to address it. Reach out to our crisis team to get started.