Crisis Communications Resources

Crisis management definition: What is crisis?

A crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger, or any event or situation that requires immediate, systematic, and careful action to avoid harm to people, property, or reputation. Crisis management allows organizations to prepare for how they will respond to specific situations as swiftly and effectively as possible, without disrupting day-to-day operations.

Read more about the importance of crisis communications, and key crises to be prepared for here.

Types of Crisis

How to create a crisis communications plan

It is nearly impossible to predict every possible crisis and response strategy, but you can anticipate and plan for certain situations. Taking time now to consider specific scenarios you could face (or have previously encountered) as part of your crisis communications plan will make up for the time you don’t have when the situation does occur. Don’t wait for an issue to occur to figure out how to address it.

Key components of creating a crisis communications plan include:

  1. Establishing internal processes and protocols
  2. Defining the crisis communications team
  3. Creating guidelines and questions for assessing the situation and taking action
  4. Identifying the critical stakeholders and when/how they should be notified
  5. Developing core messages and templates
  6. Selecting a spokesperson

More details about Castle’s custom crisis communications plans are available here and also  on the blog.

Understanding the role of social media in crisis management

Is your crisis spreading like wildfire? 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:

  1. Monitor regularly
  2. Make a plan
  3. Gather all information, then respond
  4. Take action
  5. Use social media as two-way communication

Check out insight into each tip here.

Tips for crisis communications: How to work with the media

Are you a lab that could experience 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 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 commenting on current events

Are you grappling with whether to speak out or comment 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 current events and 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.

  1. Assess the situation
  2. Be clear about your company’s values
  3. Know your audience
  4. You don’t have to be first…but you don’t want to be last
  5. Don’t decide based solely on emotion…but listen to your gut

For more in-depth insights, read the full blog here.

Crisis communications case studies

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. Learn more about the following examples of our work here.

  1. Contract dispute and intellectual property for technology and security company
  2. Racial equity and social justice for numerous education clients
  3. Patient safety at healthcare facilities
  4. Proactive crisis planning for small private college

Crisis communications examples

As any PR consultant will tell you, every crisis is different. Each situation contains unique elements, although the broad strokes are similar. 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:

  1. Silicon Valley Bank Collapse
  2. School Culture Wars
  3. Data Breaches

Read the details here.

The Castle Group Crisis Communications E-book, Insight and Advice, Free Guide

The importance of reputation audits

Nobody likes surprises, especially when they come at what is supposed to be an exciting time. The announcement of a speaker, new hire, or individual honoree is supposed to be a positive moment for an organization. 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, new hire, or individual honoree 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 award recipients. To learn more about what a reputational audit entails, keep reading.

media training
Deanna LeBlanc gives presentation
Sandy Lish meet with Greg Almieda

Choosing the best crisis communications firm

“I wish I wasn’t talking to you,” and “I hope I never have to call you.”

These are two familiar refrains we often hear when talking with leaders for the first time. The conversations can typically be separated into two buckets – there is either an immediate need for crisis communications support or assistance at some point in the future may be needed.

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, here are six qualities to look for in a crisis communications firm:

  1. Experienced
  2. Discerning
  3. Knows how to listen first and then ask questions
  4. Calm
  5. Compassionate
  6. Trusted

Learn more about finding the crisis communications firm that is right for your business 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 it is possible to anticipate and plan for certain situations. 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.

Crisis Communications