Who Is On My Organization's Crisis Communications Team?
Your organization’s crisis communications team is possibly the most important collection of people who will navigate every emergency and crisis your organization experiences. These folks are not only the conduit to your critical stakeholders, often they are the gatekeepers and evaluators of risk and decisions. They serve as the organization’s central core and coordinate the decisions and actions of other staff.
A very large organization likely has a sizable communications team to fulfill the responsibilities of a crisis communications team.
However, your organization may have a communications team of one or just a handful of employees. This is not enough people to complete all of the necessary tasks efficiently and effectively. Therefore, you will likely have to pull staff from other areas of your organization.
The question you must consider is how do you create an effective crisis communications team with people who are not professional communicators?
Find Proficient Communicators
You likely can find people throughout your organization who are proficient communicators and include them on your crisis communications team.
Forget their title. They could be a secretary, your attorney, somebody in finance, or a custodian. Who cares? You are seeking individuals who can write, research, organize, and are in-tune with the needs of stakeholders. You need people who can provide customer service during a highly stressful time.
Identify people with the right demeanor to handle the job and have the basic necessary skillset and you can find a role for them on your crisis communications team.
The Top Ability is Availability
During a crisis, you require people who are present and able. Be sure that the people you identify don’t also have critical roles to fill during a crisis for other parts of the organization. If they are on your team during a crisis, they report to your team lead and must be available to serve your team’s efforts.
Therefore, the Director of Operations may have other critical responsibilities and not be able to serve your team no matter how adept they are at communications. A member of the human resources office may be required to focus on the needs of internal stakeholders during a crisis.
The top ability for members of your crisis communications team is availability.
Provide Regular Training
Now that you have identified the individuals who will serve on your crisis communications team, you must take time to prepare them for their role.
The first task is to make them familiar with your crisis communications plan and their specific role within that plan. Provide them with a copy and meet with them individually to discuss their role and responsibilities.
Once individuals are familiar with their role, bring the team together and conduct tabletop exercises. This should be done at least annually but ideally twice annually or quarterly. The exercise doesn’t have to take all day, but doing this on a regular basis will keep their skills sharp, help identify gaps in the plan as new realities emerge, and prepare for possible upcoming emergencies that may be able to be anticipated.
The Communications Workshop has several courses and resources to assist in crisis communications planning and execution. However, before you can adequately respond to a crisis, you must have an able team around you to fulfill all of the necessary tasks to ensure your organization navigates the situation adeptly.