Crisis Communications: Be prepared

Eiffel Tower at NightNo organization is immune to crisis.  It could be a terrorist event, a hotel fire, a natural disaster that halts air transportation, a disease outbreak that causes panic, or civil unrest that mars a vacation experience.  These are only some examples. A crisis can occur at any place, any time.

Here are some guidelines to help you communicate in the line of fire.

When a crisis hits:

  • Keep your cool. Avoid knee-jerk reactions and be prepared to wait out possible media opportunities until you have the information you need.
  • Anticipate media questions and answers
  • Establish a communications chain of command to funnel information internally as events unfold.
  • Designate appropriate spokespeople and make sure your responses and messaging are consistent.
  • Prepare message points for your spokesperson(s)
  • Know what type of questions you can answer, and know client policy on which type of questions are proprietary information
  • Be sure you or another P.R. representative are available 24/7
  • Always ask the reporter or interviewer for their deadline, honor them, and respond promptly
  • Post relevant responses on client web sites as soon as possible.
  • Use social media such as twitter, facebook, google+ to keep media and the public up to date on latest developments.

Linda Kundell is a highly experienced public relations consultant who has successfully steered clients such as the US Tour Operators Association and the US Travel Insurance Association through crises such as terrorism and uprisings (9/11 and the Arab Spring) to natural and health disasters (Icelandic volcano cloud, Hurricanes Katrina and Irene, SARS, Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreaks.  

Photo: Stefan W via flickr