A hacker has breached your business’s network and stolen customers’ financial data. A tornado hit your business and has injured employees and customers. The coronavirus has infected several neighbors. In any of these crisis situations, a crisis communications plan is essential.

This downloadable checklist will help you develop an effective crisis communications plan.

When to Use a Crisis Communications Plan

When a crisis occurs at your business, it may affect your employees, customers, suppliers and even the surrounding community. Having a crisis communications plan that you can put into action immediately helps to ensure that both your employees and the outside world get accurate information about what’s happened at your business and how you are handling the crisis.

A crisis communication plan can keep employees up to date on whether they should report to work, answer neighbors’ concerns about the chemical spill at your business or help to restore your business’s good reputation after an offensive social media post. With a plan in place, you won’t have to spend valuable time strategizing how to respond to media inquiries or angry customers—you can simply follow your plan.

How to Create a Crisis Communications Plan

To begin developing your crisis communications plan, start by thinking about possible crises that could occur and ranking them in order of which is most likely to affect your business. Next, ask yourself which key stakeholders would be affected by each type of crisis. What would the stakeholders’ biggest concerns be in each situation, and what would be the best channel for responding to their questions or proactively sharing information?

You may want to use your website, a phone hotline, social media, a press release or other method to communicate with external stakeholders. Inside the business, a group email, phone tree or just talking to your team could be the best way to communicate. Be sure you have current contact information for all employees and their families so you’re ready to communicate quickly in the event of a crisis.

You’ll also need to determine who in your company will lead crisis communications and serve as the face of your business during the crisis, speaking to the media and the public. Save time by creating templates for emails, texts and social media posts that can be adapted to a variety of situations.

This template also offers steps on how to handle a crisis while it’s happening and deal with its aftermath.

Would you like help to create your business’s crisis communications plan? Contact a SCORE mentor online or in your community to get free advice.

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