How should my company handle itself in a crisis?
After developing your crisis plan, distribute it to department heads and managers, and schedule mock crises to help prepare for the real thing. Evaluate the plan after each mock trial, and schedule a crisis communications team meeting twice annually to update the strategy, says Jason Mudd, founder, AXIA.
In a crisis, assess the situation and follow your plan. Begin by identifying your key messages.
“Keep it simple, with no more than three main messages for all audiences and a few messages targeted specifically at key audiences,” he adds.
Brief employees, clients, prospects, and investors personally or via e-mail, letter, newsletter, or fax. Distribute news releases, send letters, or hold briefings and news conferences for the media.
“Look at your audiences' reactions and decide if additional communication is necessary,” Mudd advises.
What are some practical ways to engage in social media while also making efficient use of my time?
“Follow your audience and focus on key channels,” says Debbie Friez, VP at BurrellesLuce. “Comments about your product, company, or issue can pop up anywhere, but it's likely that certain social media channels will be more popular than others for networking among your customers, shareholders, or critics.”
Identify the influential players in the relevant social media and then join their conversation. Make sure to reveal your occupational affiliation, be respectful of the community, and add meaning to the discussion.
“Provide product and event alerts only if appropriate for that community,” Friez suggests.
Just as you don't expect to read every news outlet, don't try to join every social media network.
“Monitoring services can stand watch where you're unable, helping you to follow the conversation and decide where and when to get involved,” she adds.
How can we develop a public affairs strategy?
“Businesses are at risk for new taxes, regulations, and legislation without a public affairs strategy incorporated into their communications plan,” says Elizabeth Trosper, partner and head of the public affairs division at MassMedia Corporate Communications.
This strategy starts with familiarizing yourself with the current issues in your respective industry on both the state and federal levels. Monitor government agencies as well as internal and external publics who are informed on issues that impact your business.
“Advocate your cause through traditional and social media, and community outreach,” Trosper notes. “With 24-hour news cycles, blogs, and independent media, the challenge in today's communication plan is to define yourself before your opponents or their allies define you. Advocate aggressively.”