How To Develop A Crisis Communication Plan

Now more than ever it is very clear that organizations that had a clear crisis communication plan in place have been able to pivot much better than those that did not. The goal of a plan is to know what to do, before you actually have to do it. There are three phases to creating a robust crisis communication plan; Before. During. After.

The Before

The major components to The Before Phase include prep work, knowing your audience, knowing your stakeholders and identifying your crisis management team.

Lets start with the crisis management team.

Please do not place the entire responsibility of communicating during a crisis on the marketing department.

The common members of the crisis team are:

  • Public relations
  • Legal
  • Security
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Human resources

Clearly depending on the structure of your business, you may not have all the people to fill the roles, just make sure you have the perspective from each role. For example, you may not have security, but you can put systems in place that include security or even consult with a security professional. Thinking about security could include crowd management, theft, cyber, property or information.

Next lets look at your stakeholders and your audience.

Your audience are the receivers of the message. Their primary participation is to observe the communication and changes. Your stakeholders on the other hand are the individuals directly impacted by the organizations decisions and actions. Lets say there was a building fire in the middle of the night. No one was injured, however officially when you announce next steps, the stakeholders are your employees, production and service partners and the audience is the general public.

Finally your Prep Work

Once you have your team and you know who you are speaking to and what you will be talking about. Its time to do the prep work. The prep work includes workflows, policies, procedures and templates.

Your templates should include:

  • Accidents that injure employees or others
  • Property damage to company facilities
  • Liability associated injury to or damage sustained by others
  • Production or service interruptions
  • Environmental or natural disasters
  • Product or service quality issues
  • Hyper specific industry issues (child abuse at a school)

Your workflows should include:

  • Communication approval hierarchy
  • Spokesperson organizational chart
  • Predetermined communication channels (Facebook, Mass Texts, Press)

The During

During the crisis it is critical to follow three primary guidelines. Be quick. Be accurate. Be consistent. It is far better to over communicate less information accurately than it is to under communicate false information.

Be Quick

Waiting to respond allows space and time for rumors, panic and conspiracy. The sooner you respond, the sooner you can dispel the negativity and the less you will have to do to repair for your reputation. An early response is typically within the hour of the crisis awareness. Owning your own communication platforms will prove to be vital as you can communicate without the discrepancy of the media creating their own version. A quick response shows your organizations position and control of the crisis.

Be Accurate

Identify your primary spokesperson. This person should have some experience. If not there should be training provided prior to the crisis. Posting on social media or sending a newsletter are completely different from standing in front of a room full of reporters answering questions about a crisis. Report from facts only. Don’t make assumptions while reporting. It may seem frustrating, however it is better to be accurate than take back something you said in error.

Be Consistent

Confirm that your message is the same across all platforms. If you typically share from an educational position, continue to report out that way. Keep you brand in place and remember once you send it out, its out there forever. Depending on the type of crisis, establish a communication cadence. Emails every Monday, social media post every day at 11 am, employee mass text every Friday. Think about the weather. Most stations report the weather a certain time on the hour. Building your communication around a cadence will help you build trust with your audience and stakeholders.

The After

After a crisis the focus is on repairing anything the crisis destroyed, including apologizing, corrective actions, compensation, and brand reputation.

Your Apology

A true apology does not include the word “but”. “But” automatically cancels out an apology, and nearly always introduces a criticism or excuse. A true apology keeps the focus on your actions—and not on the other person’s response. A true apology needs to be backed by corrective action. A true apology requires that you do your best to avoid a repeat performance.

Corrective Action

Corrective action is not meant to be a knee jerk response to a crisis. Corrective action requires a thoughtful response. It needs to make sense for the organization on all operational, financial and sustainability levels. The last thing you want to do is resolve one issue and create another. Yes, lowering a price of a product or service sounds appealing, but what are the ripple affects?

Compensation

Although this seems like a no-brainer depending on the crisis, consider the risk of appearing heartless or providing hush money. If compensation is the best response, be sure that it complements the crisis. Compensation can also come in the form of payroll or additional benefits.

Brand Reputation

Resorting your brand’s reputation actually happens during and after the crisis. Your reputation can be restored using various strategies such as Defeasibility, which is the lack of information about events leading to the crisis situation. Simply put, you didn’t know. You announce what measures you will put in place so there isn’t any additional miscommunication or lack of communication moving forward. You continue to communicate thr status of the newly placed policies and be transparent. Don’t run or hide or even assume that people forgot. Stick to you communication plan.

Here is a quick checklist of everything mentioned above:

  • Identify your crisis team members
  • Identify your stakeholders
  • Identify your audience
  • Create your prep work templates
    • Accidents that injure employees or others
    • Property damage to company facilities
    • Liability associated injury to or damage sustained by others
    • Production or service interruptions
    • Environmental or natural disasters
    • Product or service quality issues
    • Hyper specific industry issues (child abuse at a school)
  • Create communication workflows
    • Communication approval hierarchy
    • Spokesperson organizational chart
    • Predetermined communication channels (Facebook, Mass Texts, Press)
  • Be quick
  • Be accurate
  • Be consistent
  • Craft your apology
  • Create your corrective action plan
  • Understand your compensation options
  • Have multiple brand reputation repair strategies in place

Spring Business Building Series: Update Your Business Pitch

Update Your Business Pitch

This one is a super easy task. Long gone are the robot-like commercial introductions about you, your role or your business.

Repeat after me, I am human. Guess what, the other business owners, they are human too! *Mic Drop*

Fill in the blanks:

My name is ________________

I help ____________ with ________________.

My name is Nisi and I help entrepreneurs simplify their social media goals.

My name is Karen and I help non profits write grants.

My name is Eric and I help young athletes get ready for college.

My name is Juanita and I help new veterans transition out of active duty.

Here is the truth, we are all here to solve problems. Some people have the problem that you are trying to solve, some don’t.

Spring Business Building Series: Clean Your Office

Business Spring cleaning tip from So Me Digital Bloom.
Spring Clean Your Office Using 5s

It might not be KonMari, but this Japanese cleaning technique really works. Ok, this seems like a no brainer, but most of us, myself included, I don’t do a very good job of tidying up. Having an unorganized physical space can create internal chaos. When its time for some Spring Cleaning in my office, I use a Lean Six Sigma Technique called 5 S.

To 5s your workspace follow these simple steps.

1. Sort. This is more of a SORT and PURGE step. If you have a huge inbox like me, I put out 5 baskets on my office floor and I sort through each paper or file. If I know where it goes immediately, I place it in the right basket. If I know its trash, I toss it and If I am not sure, I place it back into my inbox for a second look.

2. Set In Order. Arrange things in a way that makes your day flow. If you only use a hole puncher once a week, it should not be on your desktop. If you use your stapler every day, all day, it should be where you can easily get to it. Do this for all of the functional items on your desktop and then move to your filing system. I am a fan of binders over the hanging files because I feel like I can organize and categorize my items much easier.

3. Shine. Wipe and polish your space. Air dust your keyboard, wet wipe your phone, clean your screen. Use the appropriate polishing items to remove dust. Its not good for you and its not good for your computer.

4. Standardize. Schedule a time every day, week, month and quarter for cleaning. I try to tidy up first thing in the morning when my computer is warming up. Its only a couple of minutes, but its a huge help. Once a week I purge my inbox. I am usually carrying my inbox in my work bag, so when it starts to get heavy, its time to purge. I save my monthly cleaning for the deep stuff. Going through old boxes and cabinets and storage shelves remind me that I don’t need to order another box of paperclips. Take things one step further with your quarterly cleaning. Give yourself a day to take you time and make sure everything is clean.

5. Sustain. DO WHAT YOU SAID YOU WOULD DO! I know it seems simple. It is so easy to say…I’ll get to it later. Make this time as important as any other meeting on your calendar.

Business Building Series: Spring Business Tips When Business Is Slow

Welcome to our Spring Business Building Blog Series!

This Spring we will help you secure leads for the Summer. Don’t buy into the hype that there are slow seasons for your business. During this series, we will show you 21 ways to secure a very fruitful Summer. Take a look at some of the topics we will cover in the next 21 days!

5 STEPS TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS IN THE SPRING SO YOU ARE BUSY ALL SUMMER

For so many businesses, the summer months are super slow.

Traditionally we have been trained to build our funnels based on our personal calendars. For example, everyone is pretty busy during the holidays. So as business owners we have trained our work calendars to get as much done as possible before Thanksgiving and not to expect much from anyone until after January. The problem with this concept is that it put you behind the curve and you use so much fuel getting back on track that by May you are super tired and ready for Summer. Starting the entire process all over again.

Follow these 5 steps to secure a robust business during the Summer!

  1. Take a Step Back. Redefine your goals to get you through the end of the year. You may have goals, but this time add your personal calendar. For example, I travel with my family for most of the month of July. So I know its not the best time to onboard a new client. I use July to have any corporate retreats and strategic planning sessions. I redefine company goals and confirm the systems I have in place are solid. This helps with smooth transitions as I accept new clients or current client projects.
  2. Get Trained. Sometimes the best ideas come from the opportunity to get better in your craft. Take any training that would help you do your job better, help you reset your mindset, or give you certifications your clients would appreciate.
  3. Give Back. Sometimes stepping away from what we need and focusing on what others need is a great way to put things into perspective.  I am a firm believer that the way and amount you give will be given unto you.
  4. Network On Purpose. Pick a 60-day window for intentional networking. Grab your calendar, check out local networking events and make a plan to attend. I would even try some outside of your zip code. Have a game plan when you are ready to network. Know what your needs are, identify your dream connections and be ready for what you can do to help others.
  5. Build Your Digital Presence. We all know social media is a must if you are a business owner looking for more clients or brand awareness. Just remember that your entire digital presence is required to attend in order for you to reach any of your marketing goals. Create a system to build a robust digital presence. My favorite system kinda goes like this.
    1. Blog Post
    2. Drip Email Campaign
    3. Social Media Ads
    4. Social Media Engagement
    5. Social Media Posts

There a ton of ways to stay busy but remember that you want to be productive, not just busy.

BONUS TIP! Get to the root cause of why the summer is a slow month for your business. Is it the product you offer? Just because you sell coats doesn’t mean business has to be slow. Look for international partners, look for influencers that are well organized. They would love to have a heads up on a winter trend. Use this time to redo your marketing photos. Troubleshooting is always done best when you can remove emotions and take a look without being…well…in your feelings.

If you need a little bit of help filling your Spring Funnel to Build Your Summer Business, we have a Spring Special just for you.

BLOG + DRIP EMAIL CAMPAIGN +

30 DAYS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT PACKAGE ONLY

$675

If you would like to receive our extended list of tips on growing your business during the typical slow season, fill out the contact form below.

Stop Overthinking and Start Completing Your Business Goals

If you are a creative business owner like myself, you understand the crushing effect of OVERTHINKING. I have to always remind myself that progress is better than perfection and clear is better than clever. This is just something I say to help get myself back on track. The truth is if you create a simple system to follow, to keep you on track, execution and completion will become your best friends!

This post is perfect for the new business owner who wants to get started, but all of your ideas are running around in your head. Its hard to figure out where to start, and the idea of a business plan is way too overwhelming. I created a few systems below that will walk you through all aspects of starting, growing or re-branding a business. I like to keep it simple. The easier it is for you to understand, the easier it is for you to accomplish.

woman-hand-desk-office.jpg

MVP
Mission. Vision. Plan.

Mission:

A mission statement is intended to clarify the ‘what’ and ‘who’ of a company.

Vision:

A vision statement adds the ‘why’ and ‘how’ as well.

Plan:

A plan states your purpose and intent.

NAP

Niche. Audience. Product.

Niche:

What makes you special in your industry?

Audience:

What makes your dream client special?

Product:

What makes your product (service) unique and valuable?

BLT

Boundaries. Language. Tone.

Boundaries:

What won’t your organization do?

Language:

From what perspective are you speaking to your audience?

Tone:

What is your attitude towards your audience?

DIP

Design. Image. Posture.

Design:

The integration of customer empathy, experience design and business strategy

Image:

The perception people have of your business when they hear your company name. (Brand/Logo)

Posture:

Confidence & strengths to the current and long-term needs of a business.

STEAM

Strategy. Team. Execution. Assets. Marketing.

Strategy:

A working plan for achieving vision, prioritizing objectives, and competing successfully.

Team:

Who do you need to partner with to complement your business?

Execution:

The function and mindset to finish a project or process.

Assets:

Your tangible, intangible and intellectual property.

Marketing:

Your internal and external efforts to draw attention to your business.

Do you have any business systems that help you with your business fundamentals?

I would love to here about them!

Quickbooks. Is It A Good Fit

I am working very hard to decrease the number of accounts I have to log into just to manage my business.

I would like something that is completely all-inclusive. I don’t want to have to worry about logging in different portals or making sure that one portal can integrate with the other one. It seems like every time I get knee deep in figuring out a system, there is a major kink in the link!

UGH!!

I have decided that I am only going to use 5 portals per business. NO MORE! I have created a new Quickbook Online account that I am very excited about.

I plan to use this to its full ability. I also believe that is my first issue. I jump to a new system and use it for what I need at the time and eventually realize I need something different without diving deeper into the services provided.

I have been taking as many classes and watching just about every video I can find to help me streamline my own businesses.

QuickBooks understands that business owners are busy and usually need to rely on trusted sources for expedited decision making. They gave me this link to help walk you through becoming a QuickBooker for LIFE, just like me!!

Follow it and you are well on your way to better decisions to streamline your business.