When you start a business, you know you need a purpose, vision, mission. You know you’ll need a website, and you’ll need to showcase your products and services. Did you know you will also need a crisis communication strategy?
If your business is worth anything, you need a way to protect it, if it becomes vulnerable, which means you need a crisis communications plan. A crisis can come in the form of a global pandemic, an employee has gone rogue, a bad review, fraud, a safety recall, if you should post during an attempted coup, what topics are allowed for content creation, which ones are off-limits… Crisis Communications Plan is a simple, proactive step you can take with your small business, today, to protect yourself and your stake holders.
COVID19 was a rude awakening for many businesses, for many reasons. Gold Coast had a lot of risks. Employees, subcontractors, current homeowners with their walls ripped open, future clients. Strategic emergency response was essential.
Below are the six steps I take when creating a crisis response system for a business.
- Assess risks: For Gold Coast, the risks were customers, employees, subcontractors. It was a safety concern, and access concern, a stream of work concern. There are a variety of risks for different businesses. It is important to be aware of all of them.
- Take fast and decisive action: Communicating safety was the biggest priority when it comes to COVID. Keeping people safe, making sure our customers felt safe. What are the key messages you need to communicate to what people?
- Train your team: The team needed training in handwashing, distancing, masks. I created signs, wrote a song, and produced a training video. Songs, poems, cartoons are easy ways to train teams in fun ways. There are also software programs such as Trainual, which you can use to train audiences. Social media is a great way to facilitate messaging. It is quick and easy to access.
- Issues audit: The business audited how many jobs they could take on at the time and it was my job to communicate that. They also needed to communicate new ways of providing estimates, and leads, as well as how many workers would be coming to the house because of the emergency, and if the jobs were going to be delayed. What are the consequences of the decisions being made, are they worth it? Risk VS Reward.
- Take responsibility: As new regulations popped up, these need to be communicated to continue to communicate safety and trust. The business needed to be willing to take responsibility for all aspects of the emergency that would affect stakeholders. Since the shutdown, the business has had to continue to communicate.
- Set goals: The business set a goal of maintaining a new job every two weeks during the highest cases of COVID. Gold Coast has surpassed this goal!
A crisis communication plan does not take long to create and is helpful. Better to have and not use, than need and not have. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. I am happy to help you write a communications program for your small business!