It’s been about eight weeks since the coronavirus changed our normal as a society. As a communications team, we took a step back from the daily news cycle to reflect on how brands – both those with a long history and others more recently established – are responding and adapting to the evolving crisis.
The central question we kept coming back to was: Do organizations truly benefit from crisis planning and preparedness? Or does all that work go out the window when their business is on the line?
The answer is yes, of course they benefit. But the value is always going to be in the big picture learnings, not failing to anticipate a specific scenario, such as a global pandemic. You saw the value in the exercise if you accepted that crisis preparedness and planning would force your organization to get organized should you ever need to react quickly in a crisis.
The guiding principles that are important to a crisis plan include:
- Identifying the right decision-makers at a leadership level to help steer the organization
- Developing a standard operating procedure for how information flows within the crisis team and informs the actions taken and communicated by the organization
- Determining your communications objective, which should always be in service to your business objectives
- Capturing the key messages you want your audiences to hear and ensuring they align with operational realities and brand values
- Selecting the spokespeople who can deliver your story effectively to the audiences that matter most and preparing them to be storytellers
A crisis plan forces an organization to think through all of this. To build muscle mass, we recommend coming up with a handful of scenarios to road test the concept and running drills to identify what worked and what didn’t, course correct where necessary and reinforce the learnings within the system.
We’re an agile team here at Wye Communications and are accustomed to working remotely for our clients, so for us, adapting to the COVID-19 crisis has been rather seamless. We’ve been busy helping our clients stay disciplined with their communications objectives during the pandemic and finding innovative ways to help them achieve their goals… even with shelter-in-place orders.
Being prepared as a company to adapt to crises such as this pandemic is a testament toa team’s agility and flexibility, and we’re fortunate and proud that ours quickly rose to the challenge.