Crisis communication is something that can make or break your company in circumstances that require it. For many, crisis communication is personified in Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope on the ABC show Scandal. Pope and her team of expert’s tackle crisis after crisis with incredible poise, tactic, and drama, all representatives from various departments: Publilc Relations, legal, organization divisions etc. This team is lead by the organization’s CEO (ie. Their ‘Olivia Pope’). By creating this team, you will have a select few that are trained and aware of the plan of attack when addressing a crisis.
Anticipate crises. The best way to prevent a crisis is to stop it from occurring in the first place. If the Crisis Communication Team brainstorms all possible crises that can occur internally and externally that will impact the organization, they can draft potential statements, create a custom plan of attack and choose spokespeople for those particular events. This way, if they crisis occurs, the team can look to their plan instead of wasting precious time drafting a plan which could lead to further damage to the organization.
Choose your spokesperson wisely. For Olivia and her team, the spokesperson is most often the White House Press Secretary, Abby Whelan. They often choose her because of her position, her authority, her training and her tact. This is how organizations should choose their spokesperson as well. However, you must consider the fact that different crises call for different spokespeople. Choose someone who is trained in answering tough questions and is well versed in crisis communication; someone who can communicate your message with confidence and is suited for the position.
After properly addressing your crisis, analyze it. How much of an impact did your preparation make? What could your Crisis Communication Team do differently? Asking these simple questions can save your organization a lot of time if a crisis similar to the last one occurs again. Not to mention, if you’re prepared ahead of time, your reaction could be delayed, causing more damage than your team had anticipated. Learn from your crises.
As much as Scandal makes crisis communication seem glamorous and hastily addressed, in the real world it’s a bit different. A lot of preparation goes into crisis communication. Putting in the work ahead of time with a Crisis Communication Team can seem tedious in the moment, but it may end up saving your organization when the time comes. At the end of a crisis, you may even pour yourself a glass of wine in the comfort of knowing that you planned ahead and anticipated the crisis with as much poise and tact as Olivia Pope herself.