The Cornerstones of a Crisis Plan

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced the formation of a crisis team following last year’s “slap heard around the world” at the 2022 Oscars ceremony. According to the organization, for the first time in Academy history a crisis team has been implemented to manage communications in the event of an unexpected moment or scandal.


It’s incredibly surprising that the Oscars, being one of the most watched television events with thousands of attendees, dozens of awards and speakers, hasn’t proactively planned for a crisis in its 90+ year history. While unexpected, it is a good reminder that all organizations – regardless of size, industry, or public visibility – need to be prepared in the event of an emergency.


Having a crisis protocol in place with a step-by-step roadmap is critical to effectively managing the issue and controlling the message. A seamless and unified response will help minimize potential damage to your brand and improve outcomes.


To help you get started, here are four cornerstones of a well-equipped crisis strategy:


Identify the Team

The first step in a crisis strategy is identifying the team that will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the situation and assigning clear responsibilities.


The full crisis team typically includes individuals from throughout the organization that will need to be involved, including PR and communications, marketing, HR, legal, building and facilities, external consultants, and identified spokespersons. Having the team fully outlined, with clear roles and responsibilities, and contact information will help eliminate any guesswork.


Media & Social Media Policies

When there is a crisis or unexpected event, the crisis team members aren’t the only individuals you need to take into consideration. Regardless of the size of your organization, it’s important to provide all employees and personnel with clear media and social media policies.


For example, the media policy will often ask staff to refrain from commenting and to direct all inquiries to the media contact. The social media policy will define best practices for staff as it relates to sharing and discussing company news or updates on any social media platforms, blogs, or chatrooms. The last thing you need during an already hectic issue is dealing with an accidental press response that wasn’t fully vetted and approved.


Identify Scenarios

Next, the crisis team should hold a scenario exercise to identify organizational pain points, potential issues, and concerns. For example, a construction company may need to be prepared for a workplace accident while a financial services firm may be more likely to deal with personnel misconduct. Having an understanding of the type of issues likely to crop up is key before developing the bulk of the strategy.


Response Framework & Checklist

Once various scenarios are identified, an individual checklist can be developed outlining the response. The checklist is robust and will outline your entire response framework, including internal protocol and policies, immediate action items per event, chain of communication/notification, and the media response plan.


Don’t be like the Oscars and begin crisis planning after a major disaster. Strategize and plan now to be in a better position should an issue occur later. For additional resources on crisis communications, check out Jessica’s blogs Why You Need A Crisis PR Agency and Who Should Be On Your Crisis Response Team 




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