Alyson English, Director, Lighthouse Communications

When it comes to crisis communications, most companies make their biggest mistake before a crisis even occurs…

They don’t have a plan in place.  

It is thought up to one in four UK companies are operating without an up-to-date crisis communications plan. This has always been a very dangerous strategy, but particularly so in an age where information spreads like wildfire across web pages, social media platforms and instant messaging apps.

With stories being shared at the click of a button, a crisis can very easily become headline news within minutes.  

Clear communication from a senior figurehead within the organisation is required quickly and regularly. This ensures control of the narrative with timely updates to stakeholders, including media, an important opportunity to address rumours and speculation.

In the midst of a crisis, there is no such luxury as time. Permissions, channel set up and spokesperson training, should be planned and completed in advance. The communications plan should then be reviewed and tested regularly.  

Listening and monitoring should be a critical focus of any crisis response plan. This will form the basis of decisions regarding the timing, the contents and the channels of the next update from the organisation.

Calm and critical thinking from leaders is key to bringing the organisation through any crisis. But how the organisation handles and communicates throughout a crisis is what makes or breaks its reputation.

Importantly, agreeing the communications plan in advance allows executives within the organisation to focus on the overall strategy and make the best decisions to safeguard the company’s future.