By Alex Liddington-Cox and James Fitzpatrick
As any media and communications professional or company spokesperson will know, when a crisis occurs, everything unfolds rapidly. The pressure is on to put together a response and get a handle on the story before it spirals of your control.
If you're unprepared, building strategy on the run, and choosing words based on 'gut feel'; there's only a small chance you'll succeed.
Every time our team gets called out to support an organisation's crisis, we give ourselves a head start by bringing along three tried and tested tools, formulas, and templates to guide our media response:
1. Crisis Communication Response Process
We adapted this process from the British Standard 11200:2014 Crisis management guidance and good practice - and it's essentially a checklist that guides our communication response in the event of a crisis. It ensures we don't miss any critical steps in building our response (an easy mistake to make in the heat of the moment). Crisis Management can often seem daunting and complex but this process helps breaks the response down into easy to manage steps.
2. Message Strategy Formula
We adapted this formula from a long-time master of crisis communications: W. T. Coombs and his 'Situational Crisis Communication Theory. This formula, tried and tested across many of our clients and past crises, helps you select a message strategy to match the situation's circumstances and level of reputational risk. This eliminates the choosing of messages based on 'gut feel' and ensures you pick the appropriate communication approach for your stakeholders' expectations.
3. Crisis Shield Message Model
Typically our client's favourite model because it keeps your response structured, simple, and practical. This message model provides a structure for your messaging that will address stakeholder's information needs and is easy for receivers to comprehend.
We're happy to share the templates for these three formulas and tools free of charge. Let us know if you'd like them and we'll send them over via email.
If you're looking for something more advanced, we're now teaching the practical application of each of these tools as part of our world-leading media training workshop.