Five Tips for Preparing Your Worst Organizational Crisis Scenario

Mike Kohler

Mike Kohler, Online Faculty

Public Relations (PR) people can be real downers. Or at least they should be.

Not all the time, mind you. After all, PR people are renowned as storytellers, engaging networkers, lively event hosts, etc.

So, no, they shouldn’t be downers on any of those occasions.

Where their pessimistic side should show up is in conspiratorial collaboration with their Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or the CFO’s risk management designee or with the Human Resources (HR) watchdog of the organization in crafting a dynamic, useable crisis communication plan. Here are five tips for preparing your worst organizational crisis scenario:

1. Be Prepared for Crises

While the rest of the organization is planning for the best, the seasoned strategic communications professional must prepare for the worst, or even for the unthinkable. Someone has to think about the unthinkables, such as business disruption or even loss of life. It’s a value to the organization if someone is ready to challenge all the team’s blue sky forecasts with (potentially grating) “what if?” questions.

2. Rehearse for Crisis Scenarios

Think of worst-case scenarios and role-play them out. After all, you wouldn’t consider making a big presentation without preparation, so you can’t possibly think that business continuity is less important.

3. Redundancy in your Crisis Communication Plan

Each contingency should have a contingency. Think of the average calling tree. If you’re a communications professional, chances are that you are pivotal in the plan. But what if YOU are the emergency?

4. Publish the Plan

Publishing has multiple values, including the learning that comes from actually crafting the document as a team.

5. Share the Crisis Plan and Train Employees

A crisis plan is the last thing that should be on a need-to-know basis for frontline employees. A well-trained plan almost ensures that an unexpected hero will surface in a crisis situation.

Learn More About Strategic Communications

The online Master of Science in Communication degree program covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication. Learn more about social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.