Crisis Planning: Build relationships before a crisis hits

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Have you ever taken a moment to think about all the possible crisis situations that your business or organization could face? I encourage you to take the next two or three minutes and jot down everything you can think of.

Whether your organization faces the potential of having a crisis with the work you do each day or you have a much smaller percentage of something happening, it’s equally important to be prepared. Keep the mindset of it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.”

One helpful tip on being prepared before a crisis hits is networking with different entities or target audiences so you have relationships and credibility built up before something happens. Would you rather take the time to meet with individuals and know about their processes and inner workings before something happens or fly by night when every single minute can be critical?

Here are a few agencies and audiences that we suggest networking with:

  • Police/emergency or government personnel: Consider having a contact within an emergency department such as police or emergency management. They can be a big asset when you are facing a crisis. Do you know their processes or how they might lend a hand? Also, having contacts within your local or regional government may also be beneficial. A call is more likely to be taken if there is a relationship built.
  • Media: Meeting with members of the media is important both in and outside times of crisis but it will be easier to work with the media during bad times if you have a past relationship with them.
  • Lawyers/accountant: What professional service companies might you need on hand to get through a financial or legal situation. Lawyers or accountants will often bring sound advice to the table and there must be a great level of trust when dealing in crisis situations. So work on those relationships and have a team identified prior to a crisis.
  • Trade associations: Does your company or employees of your company belong to a trade association? With paid memberships there are often forums or industry case studies that you can learn from.
  • PR counsel: Having a good PR team on board to help through a crisis is important before, during and after a crisis (don’t forget you will need a good brand recovery strategy). Having a company or contact identified in your crisis plan will take out time researching when a crisis hits.
  • Community leaders: Having relationships with leaders of your community is very advantageous. They provide support, advice and can be great “sounding boards” when you start to execute your communications plan. 

Written by

Karen Schlieve

With more than nine years of full-service agency PR experience, Karen Schlieve has worked with clients in a variety of industries including construction, health care, financial, education, non-profit, government, professional services and more. With a passion for a fast-paced work environment, she has successfully led numerous crisis communications projects including company embezzlements, environmental issues, labor disputes. Karen is a well rounded PR professional who excels in campaign research and planning, media relations and thinking strategically about a client's social media and online presence. Her attention to detail and determination are crucial in exceeding the goals of a PR program. Karen also has an uncanny ability to read a situation for what it is and make sound recommendations. As a graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Karen is on the board of directors for the Fox Valley Sibling Support Network. She also serves as the publicity chair of the Public Relations Society of America - Northeast Wisconsin Chapter and is involved with the Pulse Young Professionals Network marketing committee.

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