By Gerard Braud
Public relations people are always searching for a free crisis communications checklist, as though some expert in crisis communications has the magic solution in a free template. Just search for crisis communications checklist, or free crisis communications checklist or free crisis communications template and you’ll see what I mean.
The problem with a crisis communications checklist is that it is no different than any other to-do list in your life. What is the truth about your other to-do lists? Well, many of the tasks go undone.
Why do they go undone? Because the task is assigned to no one and the to-do list has no time limit for completion.
Take the typical free crisis communications checklist that you find online. It will say things such as:
1) Gather information
2) Consider whether you will need to write key messages
3) Consider whether you will need to call a news conference
4) Select a spokesperson
In the crisis communications checklist as exemplified above, there are 4 huge problems:
1) The tasks in the checklist are assigned to no one.
2) There is no time limit on how soon the tasks need to be finished.
3) There is no mandate that the tasks should be done.
4) There are no details about the steps that should be taken in order to know that each task on the checklist is done properly.
The flaw with the crisis communications checklist is it still requires you to make too many decisions on the day of your crisis that could have been made days, months, and years before on a clear sunny day.
My expert advice is to never depend on a crisis communications checklist. On a clear sunny day you should write a crisis communications plan that predetermines:
1) What is the sequence of steps that must be followed?
2) To whom are those tasks assigned?
3) How quickly must the tasks be completed?
4) What are the details that you must know to complete the task correctly?
There is no shortcut to writing a crisis communications plan correctly. Don’t trust the fate of your career and the reputation and revenues of your company to something that you find for free on the internet.
If you’d like to see what you shouldn’t have, here are a few links: