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Developing A Good Crisis Communications Plan

As most people have experienced during the ongoing pandemic health crisis, being able to communicate to clients, staff, residents and other key stakeholders really needs to be front and center of any plan that includes sharing critical information during a time of crisis.

And in today’s world of online news media, social media and viral communications, all organizations need a good crisis communications plan that can help whether they are facing a natural disaster (or a pandemic), misconduct by an employee or some other type of crisis.

Ultimately, keeping residents and staff informed is critical, and crisis communications play a key part of maintaining a good property. Personal involvement in ensuring thoughtful communications at all of our properties is a hallmark of FOURMIDABLE, and helps guide our efforts in every community.

There are several essential aspects to a solid crisis communications game plan that I would like to cover briefly. Really, though, the goal is to plan now and be ready in case you need it. It’s kind of like insurance in that way. Let’s hope we don’t need to use it, but better to be prepared.

Have a spokesperson

The plan should call for a spokesperson to speak on behalf of your property or community. In fact, to ensure more depth in times of trouble, an organization should really have a couple of key individuals in this role, certainly no more than two. The role is to represent the company, and make sure others aren’t chipping in with random thoughts or comments.

Be honest, respond quickly and tell your story

Never lie about the nature of the crisis or try to cover things up. Developing a response plan is just that – respond to what is happening and do it in as open and honest way as possible.

While third and fourth on my list, I think the next two tips are the most important ones of all, and they tend to go hand in hand. First, be sure to tell your side of the story and, next, respond as quickly as possible. We should never forget to prioritize our response, and to whom we respond to, no matter the difficulty presented by the crisis itself.

While there can be challenges sometimes to telling your side of the story, it doesn’t mean you can’t reasonably articulate as much as practical. It is also important to do it quickly before too much time passes, as this can be seen as hiding something or trying to cover it up. This is not always a fun part of our role, but there are no excuses for not responding, in some way.

Use all of the communications tools at your disposal

Good communications can take many forms, including things like letters directly to residents or staff, holding a special meeting and sending or posting notices throughout the property. Ultimately, be ready to use your communications resources and to make yourself available to stakeholders, especially if you are the spokesperson. The goal is to be confident, in control and be a credible source of information in a crisis.

Having a plan will help give you the confidence to make the surefire decisions when a crisis arises. It will help you feel in control and it will allow you to prepare and disseminate credible information.

If nothing else the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all a valuable lesson about communicating in a crisis. Let’s look to a brighter future, one where we are always ready for whatever issue may arise.