Crisis communications — or if you prefer, crisis management — is a critical component of how you respond to an unanticipated incident. At Hodges, our experience in helping clients navigate crises runs broad and deep.
To start, we have worked with companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies in helping develop crisis plans that help prepare them to respond to crises with maximum efficiency — no surprises, no questions about who says what when they’re on the hot seat. We also provide media training to help give your team more confidence in dealing with the media.
From the outset, we work closely with our clients (and often their legal team) to develop messaging that puts the incident in the proper context, even when the decision is not to respond at all. We provide counsel on handling the media and, when appropriate, take an active role in managing the media. We also take into account all of our clients’ audiences — internal and external alike — ensuring that client responses and actions best address the situation at hand for each important constituency.
Due to the confidential nature of our work in this arena, we can’t go into the specific cases, but our experience in crisis management runs the gamut — from database breaches to embezzlement, from fires to natural disasters, from sexual assaults to accusations of inappropriate relationships, from litigation to transitions involving senior leadership, and much more.
We see it all the time — a crisis hits and the organization scrambles to figure out how to respond. There are calls to attorneys and often insurance companies. There are hastily organized meetings, tentative calls to board members, whispers in the hall. Then there’s a reporter on the line, and the team struggles to figure out how to avoid making a bad situation worse.
The best way to avoid all that chaos, of course, is to take steps ahead of time to prepare. We work with clients to help them put in place crisis communications plans — some simple, others more complex, depending on the nature of the organization. The plans provide a roadmap, assign responsibilities and offer step-by-step checklists of what needs to be done (and what NOT to do) in the event of a crisis. And because crisis planning involves the appropriate internal players, there are no surprises when that crisis does hit. You know the old expression — “an ounce of prevention…”
What you can expect?
No two crises are alike, but developing a communications strategy involves many of the same steps time and time again. Working with crisis clients, you will find us:
- Asking detailed questions about what happened
- Determining the scope of the exposure and risk of the incident
- Assessing impact on various constituencies, internal and external
- Evaluating internal resources, spokespeople and capabilities
- Anticipating media response
- Creating and executing a communications plan
- Working with the organization’s senior team and often outside counsel
- Developing messaging, key statements and often FAQs
- Implementing social media strategy — proactive and reactive
- Monitoring the situation and measuring response
- Tracking social media activity
- Preparing with spokespeople on an as-needed basis