How to Write a Crisis Communications PlanBy Gini Dietrich

Early in my career, I had some amazing opportunities to work on some really big crises.

For those of you who have worked in crisis communications, you know why “amazing opportunities” doesn’t sound like I’m mental.

There is almost nothing better than the surge of adrenaline that comes from juggling a crisis, dealing with hoards of people asking you questions, and staying up all night working through issues.

I remember having to work all weekend when Hostess found asbestos in one of their plants. We had to call as many customers as they had phone numbers for and ask them to throw away their boxes of Twinkies.

(This clearly was before the Interwebz and social media.)

It was really great experience to talk to customers—who were very grateful for the personal phone call—but also to sit in the large conference room and listen to the partners advise the clients.

It used to be opportunities like these were few and far between, unless that was your communications specialization.

Today, though, a crisis can erupt while the community manager is sleeping…and be completely out-of-control by the time he or she rolls over and checks their phone early the next morning.

How to Write a Crisis Communications Plan

You don’t have to go far to find a case study of crisis communications gone rogue.

Think about Paula Deen, Susan G. Komen, Kenneth Cole, and Applebee’s.

They’re handled so poorly, it’s easy to list them off the top of your head.

But the real issue isn’t that they did bad things—we’re all human and we all make mistakes—it’s that they were handled by people who didn’t have any crisis communications experience.

That’s why I’m excited that Melissa Agnes, the co-founder and president of Agnes Day—a crisis intelligence firm out of Montreal (and she says her French words so eloquently)—is joining us for our monthly free webinar on Thursday.

It’s highly likely that every communications professional will be involved in an online crisis a few times throughout their career (I may even be so bold as to say once a year), but that many won’t have the expertise to handle it.

Melissa is going to give you the nuts and bolts you need to create a crisis communications plan, including:

  • How to determine the difference between an issue and a crisis;
  • How to brainstorm potential scenarios;
  • How to determine your audiences;
  • How to understand and meet the expectations of your audiences;
  • How to develop your “first response” statement prior to a crisis striking;
  • How to provide real-time updates;
  • How to enable your team to be responsive during a crisis;
  • How to monitor, what to monitor, and when to monitor; and
  • How to practice your plan to be certain it actually works!

She also has lots of case studies that provide examples of what you should do…and what not to do.

Webinar Details

The webinar is this Thursday, August 7, at noon ET (that’s 11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, and 9 a.m. PT, for those of you who can’t do time zones).

It is free and it’s a two-step process.

First, go to Spin Sucks Pro and click the blue “purchase” button at the bottom of the page.

Click “checkout.”

Either create a new account or login to your account.

Click “download purchase” and click the link on the confirmation page (you’ll also receive an email with this information).

Register for the webinar on that page and you’ll be good to go!

Customers Go Rogue

Melissa is going to prepare you to be ready for the new rules of crisis communications, to listen, to respond, and to regain control in a crisis gone viral.

If the idea of one of your customers going rogue scares you, this webinar is for you.

If you can’t attend live, but can’t live without advice from Melissa, please go ahead and register for the webinar. This is how we’ll know to send you a copy of the video later this week.

The comments are now yours…for questions, ideas, or things you’d like to see during the webinar.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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