Design and Execute a Crisis Communications Plan

March 27, 2019

The key to a successful crisis communications plan is to be organized in advance. While you hope the time never comes that you have to implement the plan, it is a best practice to have everything lined up so you can communicate quickly and effectively when necessary.

This happened in 2016 with Toyota, when then President-elect Trump tweeted to his nearly 60 million followers his criticisms of Toyota for moving a plant from the US to Mexico. Luckily, Toyota had a crisis communications plan in place, and the help of Quorum's stakeholder engagement tools to execute the plan in a matter of minutes.

Follow these three steps to design (and if necessary, execute) your crisis communications plan:

Map Your Stakeholders — Who Needs to be Informed in a Crisis?

When a crisis arises, you don’t want to waste time figuring out who you need to respond to. By mapping your stakeholders, you can build an auto-updating list ahead of time so if you need to put your crisis communications plan in action, the decision is already made on who should receive the rapid response message.

But what factors should you use to determine if someone should be on your list? First, map your company’s data by region, like state or congressional district. That way, you can know which stakeholders would be most impacted by a company crisis and would need to hear from you first. Then, map your stakeholders by issue. If a crisis impacts a particular issue your organization cares about, you’ll know which stakeholders care most about that issue. Finally, determine what type of stakeholder you should communicate to. For example, if you’re responding to congressional offices, do you want the staffer who handles a particular issue profile, or the chief of staff?

When Toyota was called out by President Trump, they already had their facilities mapped by legislative district, so they could specifically communicate their response to chiefs of staff in the offices of legislators who host a Toyota facility, knowing they would be the most severely impacted by the business moving operations out of the United States.

Quorum allows users to quickly identify these key stakeholders and build a list in advance.. so it can quickly be pulled into an email (with Quorum’s integrated email tool, Outbox) with just a few clicks. First, upload your organization’s economic impact data into Quorum. Then, add custom fields for which issues each stakeholder cares most about. Finally, use filters in a search of your contacts to identify those who both host facilities in their district, for example, care about the issue to which you are responding, and fill the proper role (i.e. chief of staff). Then save the list. As you add more stakeholders and they continue to fit the factors you’ve used to filter your list, the list will consistently be up-to-date. Then, when it’s time to send that list a message, you can do so in just a few clicks

Never Miss a Mention — Know the Moment You Need to Craft Your Rapid Response

One circumstance which would require launching a crisis communications plan: being called out by a public official or stakeholder highlighting problems in their district caused by your business or criticizing your organization’s practices. Another circumstance? When the key issue your organization cares about suddenly spikes in conversations amongst stakeholders and you need to quickly become part of the conversation or risk experiencing a detrimental outcome. But how can you make sure you always know when a key stakeholder mentions your organization?

With Quorum’s social media monitoring tools, never miss a mention of your organization from public officials or your own stakeholders. Set up alerts so you receive an email any time your organization or its issues are mentioned by public officials on social media, press releases, newsletters to constituents, and more, or from your organization's non-government stakeholders on their social media accounts.

Set your alerts to come immediately when the stakeholder mentions your business, and you can be off to the races with a response in minutes.

Craft and Share Your Message, But Make it Personalized

Since you don’t have to waste time building your list of stakeholders or staying alert to crises, you can spend the majority of your crisis communications plan crafting your message. Personalizing your messages to stakeholders in response to a crisis can help to ease their concerns by showing that you took the time to see the impact on them individually, rather than it appearing that you just added them to a mass email.

With placeholders in Quorum Outbox, adding personalization to an email takes minimal additional time. Add in personalized details like first name and reference the economic impact data (like how many facilities they have) in relation to how the crisis impacts them.

While a well-prepared crisis communications plan doesn’t necessarily solve the crisis, it sets your organization off on the right foot to ameliorate the situation efficiently and effectively.

See the full case study of how Toyota implemented its crisis communications plan with Quorum.

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