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Crisis Communications Checklist

In times of crisis, it is all too easy to be "reactive" and allow the swell of events to overtake your communication plan. Some time spent before trouble hits can be worth millions. Case in point: a survey showed that public confidence in Hydro-QuÉbec actually rose following the infamous ice storm of last January. By having a crisis communications plan that included a commitment to keeping Quebecers informed, Hydro-QuÉbec managed to improve its public relations in spite of service disruptions and long delays. Remember - every crisis is an opportunity.

  1. Who responds in a crisis? By having clear responsibilities within your organization, you avoid looking as though you are dodging questions. Hydro-QuÉbec received praise last winter by having their president speak directly to the people.
  2. Don't forget internal communications. During a crisis people inside your organization have a practical and emotional need to be kept informed, just as much as the public. During the ice storm, Hydro-QuÉbec communications held daily briefings between the day and night shifts, keeping everyone abreast of the situation.
  3. Have your facts ready to go. Fact sheets and "FAQ" (frequently asked questions) sheets about your organization are a handy source of background information that journalists on a deadline need. If you provide the facts, then you know they are correct.
  4. Accentuate the positive. The most valuable benefit of a well-thought out crisis strategy is that your representatives will feel and show trust in your organization's ability to handle the problem. Nothing impresses like real confidence, and only advance planning can bestow it. Secure in the knowledge that you were ready for the crisis, and are moving to solve it, your spokesperson's attitude is the best media relations you have.

For more about Hydro-QuÉbec's public relations savvy during Ice Storm '98,
check out Marketing Magazine, December 21, 1998,
"Smart PR warms Quebecers to their hydro utility."

See also:
A Crisis by Any Other Name
Crisis Communications
Surviving and Thriving in a Crisis
In Times of Crisis