PR and marketing practitioners have dusted off their crisis comms plans with many being put into action during the coronavirus. Analysing how it’s gone means it’s the perfect time to update strategies.

Scenario planning – A staff strike, leaked data… These are all types of scenarios we’ve included in our crisis comms strategy, but I wonder how many of us factored in a pandemic and overnight lockdown? Put yourself in your shoes when the virus hit and use your experiences to update your plan. For example, was their enough focus on internal comms?

Media statements – Get the voice of authority into the public domain: it’s a chance for you to explain what’s happened and the actions you are taking to rectify the situation. Save time by drafting pre-approved statements to issue to the media. Don’t forget statements for employees’ family members, especially in the event of an accident.

Spokespeople – Have a nominated spokesperson who is readily available and understands the aims and objectives of their role. Have a tiered approach based on the seriousness of the crisis. This will dictate the seniority of the person put forward. For example, a train company that cancelled its trains for the day might release communications from its senior managers, but a train that has derailed and caused a serious accident might require the CEO to step in.

Media training – Engage in media training and practice as often as needed. In the event of a situation, this experience will help you stay calm and provide you with the knowledge and skills to tackle difficult questions. Practise different scenarios such as live TV, pre-record radio and phone interviews with a print journalist.

Technology – Review the standard of equipment you use.  Can your current phone system manage an influx of calls from concerned clients, media and members of the public? Are your in-house PR and marketing people able to work remotely?

Social media – Who will be looking after it in a crisis? Pre-empt difficult questions that may be asked and ensure effective monitoring systems are in place to check what is being said about you online. What is the current approval process for content?

Contact details – Ensure all contact details including home and personal numbers are accurate in the document, especially for key people. Share any updates with your online reputation management agency and double-check their details haven’t changed.

Test – Test, test and test again. Did everyone understand their role? Did you miss anything out? Use what went wrong and learn from it. Amend and adjust your plan to put you in the best position possible to adequately deal with a crisis.