When faced with a fast-moving crisis, organizations need to be ready to respond at lightning speed. Traditionally, PR executives have used hard-copy crisis communication plans to determine next steps in addressing the media during an emergency. However, these plans are not highly accessible or actionable and are often kept in large paper-based binders. Given these challenges, many companies are digitizing their crisis communications plans and making them readily available on mobile devices to the executive team responsible.
Here are five top reasons organizations should digitize their crisis communications plans:
1. Increase Accessibility to Plans
It can be difficult for an organization’s public relations team to take immediate action during an emergency, if their communications plans are paper-based with limited availability. When the most up-to-date crisis communications plans are turned into digital playbooks and accessible to all stakeholders via their smartphones, key executives can confidently prepare for and handle multiple crisis situations.
Using mobile crisis management apps and Software-as-a-Service platforms allows all stakeholders at any location access to relevant communications plans, contact lists, emergency protocol documents, maps and other key data, all on mobile devices at any time. From handling a product recall to a corporate scandal, this puts strategic guidance and instructions in a PR executive’s hands precisely when they need it most, which empowers them to perform their crisis communications duties quickly and decisively.
2. Coordinate The Team
With digitized crisis plans, organizations can coordinate external messaging for the executive team as they prepare for media interviews. From providing the organization’s spokesperson with baseline talking points related to various crisis situations to developing a list of key media to contact during an incident and social media platforms to update, all employees can be made aware of their respective roles and action items via a mobile-ready crisis plan. In addition, there might be specific instructions for employees to decline speaking to the media based on their role at the company.
3. Update Information in Real-Time
During an emergency or crisis, information and timelines evolve quickly. Public responses can have an enormous impact on the outcome of a crisis, so it is vital to have a strategic communications plan in place. Hard-copy communications plans are challenging to update and re-distribute to stakeholders and if information isn’t updated regularly, executives might be left unprepared. Digitized plans can be quickly and easily updated at any time and companies can even send a notification to stakeholders to inform them that relevant plans have been updated. This instills a sense of confidence in employees that can have a significant impact on the success of a crisis communications strategy.
4. Communicate Quickly with Push Alerts
In today’s fast-paced corporate environment, the ability to send notifications, in real-time, directly to stakeholders can be the difference between a significant crisis event and minor blip that is handled immediately. Organizations can send real-time notifications to the executive team, as well as the PR department and other relevant employees, which can speed and streamline response during an emergency. Mobile push alerts can complement other types of communications—an email or voice call–and offer specific instructions or updates, e.g., the New York Times is in the lobby or executive team meet immediately in Conference Room A.
5. Create Multiple Communication Touch Points
Depending upon the threats facing your organization, clear communication can be the difference between quickly resolving a crisis and experiencing a business-changing catastrophe. The majority of crisis communications plans rely upon internal emails, manual call trees and crisis telephone lines for distributing important information during an emergency. According to the Business Continuity Institute, 50 percent of organizations use emergency communication software and/or website announcements for reaching stakeholders. Most are using some combination of the above to ensure that information reaches its target.
Digitized crisis plans enable organizations to take advantage of multiple paths of communication, such as alerts through an app, text messages and email. Research has found that multiple paths of communication can improve the receipt rate by up to 80 percent, which lets organizations know that alerts are received.
It is critical for companies to make crisis communications plans easily accessible to PR executives responsible for handling media relations and social media communication during an emergency. When armed with an effective, actionable plan, they will be prepared to help an organization communicate effectively and handle any crisis situation.