Crisis Communications Checklist

Crisis communications — readiness checklist

Author: Al Czarnecki APR

These ten items should be in place prior to a crisis situation. This is of great help in maintaining poise and being able to concentrate on your top priority, the crisis response plan. 

  1. Public relations policy and procedures 
    A statement of mandate, values, program, leadership. 
  2. Crisis communications action plan 
    Key people, roles, action sequences, scenarios. 
  3. 'Big Picture' information piece on your organization 
    This could be your annual report. 
  4. 'Window' information piece on every major program 
    Content and being up-to-date is most important. Can be kept as text files and printed on special masthead. 
  5. Reference files on potential crisis situations 
    Minutes, reports, clippings - indexed and portable. 
  6. Key person list 
    Work and home phone numbers, one page job summary and one page bio - board, senior management, senior person at every physical location - indexed and portable. 
  7. Designated spokesperson(s) 
    Establish default assignments prior to a crisis. Arrange for everyone to have some public speaking experience. These people and your public relations counsel should know each other. 
  8. Designated media coordination 
    This function should be established as credible and helpful with BOTH your staff and the media prior to a crisis. Trust is an outstanding asset in the midst of mayhem. 
  9. Media directory or detailed list 
    Cision, BurellesLuce, or your own contact database. You should have a concise list of the major media and your public relations counsel at home with your key spokespeople. 
  10. Media contact log 
    You can have a dozen or more newspapers and radio and television stations on the go at one time. Keep a separate tracking sheet for every journalist/story. Know who contacted you, when, about what, how to contact them, what their deadline is, what you promised, who you've delegated to, when they're due to get back to you, whether you need to follow up.
  11. Social media monitoring system 
    You need to monitor social media for your organization's name and pertinent keywords. This helps identify issues and manage them before they become crises. During a crisis, you can acknowledge comments and point people to information on your website. With social media, anything less than an agile response, one or two hours, can seem unresponsive.