By Gerard Braud
In crisis communications, you should have two types of pre-written communication
documents. The first is for fast release, called a “First Critical Statement.” Some companies call these “holding statements.”
The First Critical Statement is a way to tell the world that a) a crisis has happened, b) you know about it, c) your organization is dealing with it, and d) you will provide more information as soon as you have it. To get a free download use the coupon code CRISISCOMPLAN when you select the item from my shopping cart.
The second type of statement is much more thorough, which brings us back to your assignment to conduct a vulnerability assessment.
The reason you are asked to conduct a vulnerability assessment is because as a communicator, you may be called upon to issue one or more statements or news releases about any or all of these events.
Referring back to my previous confession of my propensity to always be prepared and to go above and beyond when writing a crisis communications plan, my goal for you is to create a large addendum in your crisis communications plan, where you will have written one document for each crisis you identify in your vulnerability assessment.
Because I’ve written crisis communications plans since 1996, for organizations in every conceivable business, government sector and non-profit sector, I maintain a huge library of pre-written documents. When writing a crisis communications plan with clients, we convene a writing retreat with a team of writers. The outcome is that we customize templates using a proprietary writing technique. The end result is that at the end of the day, your crisis communications plan addendum is quickly filled with 75 to 100 pre-written documents.
The documents contain a series of multiple choices and fill in the blank options, mixed with factual statements that are true today and will be true on the day of the crisis. The document provides great context, the appropriate degree of remorse or contrition, plus great quotes designed to drive public and media perception.
Because these are written on a clear sunny day when emotions are low and anxiety is absent, we are able to produce a better document than the one you might right when you are under a crisis deadline with high emotions.
Additionally, because these crisis communication documents are written on a clear sunny day, you have ample time for your executive team to read and pre-approve the documents for fast release.
Previously I set for you a goal to communicate effectively within one hour of less of the onset of the crisis. Often, critical life-saving time is lost because executives and lawyers anguish and languish over words in your news release. You then lose valuable time in rewrites. This pre-written and pre-approved approach works wonders and speeds up the entire crisis communication process.
The rule here: One pre-written document for each item in the vulnerability assessment.
Your options are to write them yourself, call on me to hold a writing retreat for you, or hire and agency to write them for you. Pick the one that works best for your, your time budget and your financial budget.
In our next article, we’ll cover the steps you need to take to get from the flashpoint of the crisis to the release of information about your crisis.