The logistics service providers work in an extremely volatile environment. Therefore, this involves road accidents, accidents due to improper storage of dangerous substances, theft of assets, cyber security threats, not to mention the pandemic situation we are presently going through.
Having a crisis communication plan at hand will ensure the prevention of any negative publicity. It will also allow the companies to manage the situation with minimum reputational damage. What is more, once you have the plan ready, you can also adapt it to the multiple crisis situations you might face.
Another important fact to bear in mind is the interconnectivity of supply chain processes and the increase of the pace of digitization. Due to both, our industry is coming with robust communication plans which adds resilience to the operations and helps to better manage a crisis.
But where to start and how to write an efficient and helpful crisis communication plan? In this post, we will guide you through the steps to take when writing a communication plan and discuss some strategies you may find useful.
Steps to write a communication plan:
All plans must begin with a risk study, where to include all the settings your company can be involved in. You do not need to write individual circumstances but group together similar scenarios that require common action. It is also very important to identify the profile of the stakeholders who will be affected by each particular crisis.
Not only should you consider a list of possible risk circumstances, their causes and triggers, but you should also take into account the procedure that must be followed. Once done, it is advisable to think of the possible answers to address the issue once the situation unleashes.
3. Organization Chart:
In these cases, it is more important than ever to know who is in charge of every single action and who has to report to whom. The roles of the personnel should be extremely clear.
4. Command Centre:
You will need to designate a command centre where all the operations and decisions shall be made. It is also important for everyone to know where to go during each crisis event.
5. Detailed action plans:
The next step would be to write each of the actions that need to be carried out and the person responsible for performing them. Additionally, you have to design how they will be achieved, and the results you expect.
6. Internal Communication Plan:
In crisis times, the way we communicate makes a difference. If everyone has all the information required for their tasks at every moment, it will be a lot easier to get through the crisis successfully. You should also plan when and how any news will be announced to the team, suppliers and other internal audiences. Take into account especially the sensitive ones. One more area which deserves special attention is how your staff should interconnect and the possible channels they should use.
7. External Communication Plan.
Your team needs to have a trained spokesperson in charge of talking to the media, the public and the key stakeholders. The objectives, strategies, and information we wish to spread must be well-defined in order to be able to convey our message clearly. Additionally, you should not allow any worker apart from the designated spokesperson for speaking with anyone external to the company.
What would your crisis management team need? Computers, mobile phones, credit cards, flowcharts, pens, maps, agreements, etc. All this material needs to be prepared for the moment when the crisis management team has to gather.
9. Clear instructions:
Train your crisis management team and the entire staff to be ready in case any crisis plan needs to be activated. Information and communication will be the keys for everyone to fulfil their tasks.
10. Update it regularly:
If your crisis communication plan gets obsolete, there will be many parts and instructions that cannot be carried out. That is why you should schedule in your agenda a regular review to check if all the points are updated.
Strategies to follow when putting together a crisis plan:
Now that you know why and how you need to prepare a crisis communication plan, keep reading to check out a few important tips that will help you in this regard.
1. Prepare it in advance
As previously mentioned, you need to make a written plan with all the specific actions that you can take during a crisis. Your three primary aims should be to protect any person at risk, to inform all the stakeholders, and to ensure that your business survives. This is why you need to plan proactively and even seek advice from specialists if needed.
2. Be open and candid
Do not try to go for a hush-hush attitude and hoping to keep the bad news from reaching the media and eventually the public. On the other hand, you need to adopt a policy of transparency. This will do less damage to the reputation of your organization. Try to project your openness by communicating the info through social media, news interviews, announcements, etc. The message needs to be sent on channels that are going to reach the concerned parties most quickly. Rather than counting only on phone calls and emails, you need to depend more on SMS and chat applications.
3. Have a trained spokesperson
As previously said, having a key representative who can effectively communicate with the media, consumers, employees and the public is an imperative aspect of a crisis communication plan. This person needs to have the right skills for communicating before a large public, the press. This person should also be responsible for answering the questions on social media, too. She/he needs to have special media training to ensure that there is zero risks of important messages being misconstrued during a critical situation.
4. Inform your workforce
Your workforce is the main channel of communication between all the concerned parties. Therefore, it is very important to keep them informed with all the latest information. This will also help to eliminate all chances of circulation of rumour and negative things that might damage your reputation.
5. Provide frequent updates
During any crisis, your company needs to be farsighted and share the news even when the entire scenario isn’t clear. Over-communication is always better than allowing false rumors to spread. You can begin with statements regarding the known facts. Then, provide the updates regarding the new developments. It goes without saying that before communicating with the media, you should first talk to your key stakeholders. They have to make sure your company is in control of the events.
6. Social Media
Make sure to publish the information on every social media channel where your stakeholders follow you, rather than just making the information known via more traditional channels like websites and press releases. Keep in mind that the publication of incorrect information is going to permanently damage your reputation which is why your responses via live tweets and posts need to be done under proper supervision.
7. Monitoring systems and notification feeds can help
You need to keep yourself informed about what people (your customers/peers/ and the media) are saying about your company and this is precisely why you can consider investing in monitoring systems. They will allow you to collect intelligence from various sources and help you stay updated with all the negative situations well in advance. Before investing in monitoring systems consider exploring the free options like Google Alerts for keeping track of media plus the trending social clues from the conversations of your supplier, workers, and clients.