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Crisis Communication Training

Crisis Communications

Giving you the plans, processes, skills and confidence to communicate in a crisis

Crisis communications to protect your reputation

Saying the right thing in response to a crisis is just as important as doing the right thing: that’s why corporate crisis communication planning, training and exercising is an essential element of your crisis management planning.

A clear and comprehensive crisis communication plan provides the foundation for an effective communication response to a crisis. However, it is corporate crisis communication training and exercising that gives you real confidence that your people would communicate successfully under pressure. Working around the world across countless sectors, Insignia helps its clients to sleep easy at night, knowing that they have the crisis communication plans, processes and skills they need should the worst happen.

Crisis communication training and exercising by Insignia’s specialist crisis management consultants ensures that your people have the knowledge, skills and confidence to protect your reputation in the event of a major incident or issue.

Crisis communication services

WWhether it’s developing a crisis communication plancrisis media training for your chief executive, a crisis communication workshop for your in-house PR team, a social media exercise for your digital team or media handling skills for switchboard and reception staff, Insignia can help.

While all exercising and training is based on crisis communication best practice, no two crisis training workshops are the same. That’s because when it comes to crisis communication training we do not subscribe to the view that ‘one size fits all’. Instead, we listen carefully to each client’s specific requirements and develop bespoke training based on their individual objectives. Nothing is off the shelf.

Take a look at our corporate crisis communication training case studies and read client feedback to learn more about how Insignia helps organisations to protect their reputations.

Five characteristics of an effective crisis communication plan

Clients tell us that crisis communications training is most effective when they have a crisis communication plan in place. Without a plan, communication teams are using instinct and often miss critical steps from a best practice crisis response.

An effective crisis communication plan gives your communicators a framework – not a straitjacket – for responding effectively to the challenges of a crisis. With a plan in place, a crisis communications exercise is an effective way to check that it is fit for purpose and will serve you well in the event of a real crisis.

Writing a crisis communication plan may seem daunting, but there are some best practice approaches that will ensure you get it right:

1. Define roles and responsibilities

A plan without roles and responsibilities is virtually impossible to apply effectively. Team members will not know what’s expected of them which risks duplication of efforts or, worse still, omission of critical tasks.

Roles should cover all aspects of a communications response, including a crisis communications team leader, media relations lead, social media lead and internal communications lead.

Resource permitting, the crisis communication plan should document leads and deputies for each role to avoid ‘single points of failure’ when critical individuals are absent. If you don’t have the luxury of a large communications team, individuals can be assigned multiple roles. If that’s the case, make sure an individual is not assigned more than one lead role to protect against overload.

Assigning roles by itself is not enough. Team members also need to have an in-depth understanding of their crisis responsibilities before they are thrown into the midst of a live crisis. And that’s where crisis communications training can help. 

2. Action checklists speed up responses

Many organisations think they have an effective crisis communication plan, only to find it difficult to use in the heat of the moment. This is often the result of text-heavy paragraphs hiding the critical actions that need to be completed, urgently.

Using checklists to succinctly list critical actions is the best way to ensure your crisis communication plan is user-friendly. Creating a checklist for each role on the team provides a quick overview of the critical tasks to complete within the first hour of a crisis response and on an ongoing basis.

As with the plan as a whole, language used in checklists should be clear and concise. Avoid cluttering checklists with anything that distracts from action. Supplementary materials, such as company policies and contact lists, should instead be included as signposted appendices to the plan.

3. Template holding statements can save time in the heat of the moment

Template holding statements and social media posts – ideally pre-approved by your legal department – can help buy time, particularly during the early phases of a crisis when facts are limited.

In addition to a generic holding statement, best practice crisis communication plans should include template statements for an organisation’s most critical risks. These provide a valuable starting point for pressured communication teams. However, communicators must always remember that templates should be tailored to the situation at hand and not simply copied and pasted.

Intrinsically linked to holding statements is the approval process. Make sure everyone knows who can approve external and internal statements as well as social media posts. Document whether the legal department needs to be involved in reviewing all statements and ensure that approvals do not unduly delay getting your message out to key stakeholders.

4. Keep your crisis communication guiding principles front and centre

In-house communications teams will likely have an instinct for what their crisis communication principles are, but often don’t have them documented.

An effective crisis communication plan must not only list their organisation’s values, but also what their crisis communication objectives are. Documenting these principles in the plan puts them front of mind which can have a profound impact not only on the content of statements, but also on crisis decision-making.

5. Reflect all stakeholders in your crisis communication plan

Internal communications aren’t always reflected adequately in crisis plans because a lot of the focus is on getting the external piece right. Take time outside of a crisis to consider all potential stakeholders – internal, external, media, customers, regulators, etc. – and add a checklist to your plan to ensure you don’t forget anyone in the heat of the moment.

Finally, don’t forget the small details in your plan

  • Have an established process for checking and updating contact details
  • Review the plan regularly to ensure it still reflects your organisation’s critical risks as they evolve
  • Make sure passwords for social media platforms and other online services are documented securely – there is nothing worse than your social media manager being on a five-hour flight and finding out they are the only person able to post messages!
  • Don’t try to plan for every crisis; your plan should be flexible enough to respond to the unexpected. Ensure your plan can be applied whatever situation you face.
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Key benefits

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01

Understanding of your crisis management plan, team roles and responsibilities

02

A well-functioning team ready to manage a crisis

03

Spokespeople able to get their message across under pressure

04

Confidence to deal with social media in a crisis

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Continuous improvement to protect your organisation and its reputation

Ready to start protecting your reputation?

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