How to create a crisis communications plan

In today’s fast-paced landscape where a public reputation can be ruined in an instant, a crisis communications plan should be a key element of any reputation management strategy. When unexpected disasters or reputational threats emerge, businesses must mobilise quickly to mitigate damage. Too many organisations opt for a reactive approach to avoid expending resources on second guessing the future. However, those that have prepared well in advance and have dedicated both time and resource to anticipating potential crises tend to fare best.

While it can often be hard to anticipate where the potential next threat comes from, by implementing your own crisis communication plan in advance, your team can take decisive action rather than scrambling to react.

How to write a crisis communication plan

First of all, you need to work on an agreed structure for any crisis communication plan. Sections to consider adding are:

  • An introduction for your readers.
  • Q&A’s to provide wider context around the crisis.
  • Scenario planning to explore potential outcomes.
  • Pre-approved key messaging along with a series of relevant statements to be issued either proactively or reactively.
  • Draft templates for press releases, internal messages, and social media posts with blanks to quickly fill in details should also be considered.

What should a crisis communication plan include?

Start by identifying a core crisis response team, including senior leaders (C-Suite), legal, HR, IT, operations, PR and communications staff. Outline the roles each will play when emergencies arise. Establish a chain of command so that designated spokespeople are empowered to convey approved messaging while others can focus on continuity plans.

Mutually collaborate to identify potential crises your company could realistically face, from data breaches to personal life scandals and supply chain disruptions. Do not rule any possibility out. Then develop draft statements addressing likely scenarios that can immediately go out when needed. Ensure that legal and leadership sign-off on these materials, as early as possible, so your team doesn’t waste precious time seeking input and edits when an actual crisis begins to unravel in real time.

Make sure your plan establishes clear approval processes governing public statements and external communications. Empower certain individuals to speak on the company’s behalf and institute rules regarding what can be shared publicly without vetting. Having these boundaries in place facilitates fast, consistent messaging to critical audiences.

How crisis communication plans work

As soon as a crisis or emergency incident occurs, implement the crisis communication plan immediately. Gather your crisis team and brief them on the situation.. Outline team and organisational structures, share relevant contact lists and protocols internally for smoothly communicating updates during crises. Wherever possible and depending on confidentiality clauses, keep employees informed to maintain morale and productivity. Have procedures ready for reaching out to authorities, investors, customers and partners as well.


In your plan, designate someone to monitor activity on social channels and news outlets as situations develop. They can spot emerging rumours and coordinate with your spokespeople to counter misinformation spreading online before it goes viral. Monitoring external coverage also keeps teams aware of how response efforts are being perceived.

After the initial response stage, analyse your communication strengths and weaknesses. Update the plan to prepare for different scenarios going forward. Practicing your response ahead of time leads to confident action when turmoil strikes.

If you’d like to discuss how we could help you develop a crisis communication plan get in touch today.

Get in touch with the team