The time to think about crisis communications is before a crisis happens

When a company experiences a crisis, having an effective communications program is critical. And the time to think about that is before the problems start.

That was one message of a Jan. 6 Tampa Bay Business Journal article describing the importance of communication for companies going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Kyle Parks was quoted in the article, saying that companies need to build goodwill, and think through communications, before a crisis happens.

As former Director of Corporate Communications for Walter Industries, a $1.5-billion conglomerate at the time, Kyle handled crisis communications related to a major coal mining accident, a violent employee strike, and environmental issues.

He stresses that having a comprehensive communications plan in place is important to an organization’s well-being. Here are three key elements of a crisis plan:

  1. Identify potentially damaging scenarios, and assign a general action plan to each;
  2. Designate an internal team for each scenario, including lead spokespeople;
  3. For each scenario, prepare customizable key messages to use in crafting statements for internal audiences, the news media, customers/clients and the general public.

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Crisis Communications