During a crisis, regardless of the situation, it is important to communicate with your employees, clients, the public, government authorities and other relevant bodies. A crisis management communication plan must be defined and must be part of the business continuity management program.
It is impossible to anticipate every situation. Recall for example the Boston Marathon attacks, the Dawson College shooting, natural disasters such as major floods and the ice storm. Many events are unpredictable, such as the recent train derailment in Lac-Mégantic.
However, a communication plan in times of crises must be planned, documented and tested. A communication plan is usually implemented in the crises management plan. It aims to provide key and coherent messages to the people involved in a crisis situation. It is set out to help communication teams, minimize pressure on various internal teams as well as demonstrate that the company has the situation under control.
This crisis communication plan usually includes different procedures for the collection and validation of relevant information, approving broadcasted messages and publishing and disseminating information necessary for the various groups involved (such as staff, the media, public authorities, clients, the public, etc.). It also serves to mobilize personnel during a crisis. The plan normally provides various communication methods and mechanisms, such as the Internet (and social media), email, telephone and conference calls, television, press conferences, etc., tailored to target groups.
A spokesperson should be designated and trained for this type of situation in order to provide updates throughout the crisis. The designated person must avoid improvising. Moreover, a communication log or journal should be maintained to document the various communications, dates and times, the people concerned, the broadcasted messages, etc. This log will facilitate a post-crisis assessment in order to improve procedures and deal with potential complaints.
For more information on communications during a crisis, please read the following article in the La Presse:
For more details on the Business Continuity Management (BCM) program, please read the following article:
By Patrick Paradis, Information Security Advisor