David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group
It cannot be stressed enough that any good public relations strategy should include a crisis communications plan. Too often brands and companies overlook this and when a disaster strikes, they are caught unprepared. One aspect of a crisis communications plan is determining who should be called in and consulted when the crisis hits and a response is needed.
So to paraphrase the movie, Ghostbusters, ‘who are you gonna call’ when a crisis strikes?
1. The CEO/President – As Harry Truman famously said, “the buck stops here”, and that is particularly true during a crisis. The CEO/President is the public face of the company during a crisis. They set the public tone for the organization.
2. General Counsel/Organization Attorney – A crisis often involves a legal issue. Any response during the crisis could have legal implications. A lawyer is essential to review and answer these questions.
3. Company Communications Officer – This is the internal communications specialist who knows the company’s brand story and values. This person will work to ensure the company response corresponds with them and includes both internal and external audiences.
4. Human Resources Officer – A crisis affects an organization’s employees. This person helps make sure that proper information is relayed to employees during the crisis and helps address any misinformation and concerns among employees.
5. Social Media Officer – A major mistake many companies make during a crisis is forgetting to have a response on social media and to monitor social media. This person ensures that the social media response is consistent with the traditional media response.
6. Outside Public Relations – This is an outside public relations professional who brings an outside and objective perspective to the crisis.
Identifying all the key players needed within the organization is essential for a cohesive crisis communications response when disaster strikes. Far too often, organizations waste precious time during a crisis in identifying what personnel are needed for the crisis.