Tuesday, April 26, 2011

APR Tuesday Tip: Steps in Crisis Management

Last week, my good friend Dustin Pyeatt came to speak to the OSU PRSSA. They asked him to talk about crisis communications and I couldn't have picked a better person to present on this topic.

Crisis comm is the kind of thing you learn by doing. Talking with Dustin over the years has really helped me put my limited crisis experience in context and figure out what I learned from those crises.

Dustin and I are on the same page about one key thing: Crisis communication plans are BS. I think they are a great exercise, and I recommend writing one at least once, especially if you've never worked a crisis. But when crisis hits, that plan goes out the window. What will come in handy is a toolkit of key information and resources saved in multiple formats that you can access remotely: contact lists for key personnel and media, release templates (not the fill in the blank type, but simple masthead and boilerplate style), remote web server access and SM account passwords.

You can't anticipate the details of a crisis, that's why it is a waste of time to develop a detailed crisis plan. Very little stays the same. Today's APR Flash Card covers that little bit.

Front: Steps in Crisis Management (5)


  1. Determine type of crisis; response depends on type and duration.

  2. Assign priorities based on urgency and likelihood.

  3. Draft Q&A and resolutions for possible scenarios

  4. Focus on what to do and what to say in the first hours.

  5. Develop strategy to contain and counteract, not react and respond.

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