Keep it succinct
Ideally everyone should be familiar with the plan in advance of a difficult situation occurring but if someone needs guidance in an emergency, they should be able to find what they are looking for quickly. Do all that you can to make the crisis communication plan document easy to read:
- have a hyperlinked table of contents
- have emergency contacts clearly visible
- use headings and subheadings
- use tables and bullet points to make it easier to find information
- make it available electronically
Identify relevant stakeholders
One of the first things an NGO’s crisis communication plan should contain is:
- A list of main stakeholders
- emergency contact details for them
- scenarios in which they should be contacted
ID information hierarchy
It is essential the person who reports or finds themselves in a crisis situation knows exactly who they need to speak to. Build out a hierarchy for this within your organisation. This will vary, depending on the size of your NGO.
Determine a workflow
In a crisis scenario, the last thing you want is for anyone to be left wondering how you are going to communicate. Lay this out clearly in your plan. Mobile phones may be useful for contact between locations with reception but if your NGO has staff in remote areas you will need provision for satellite phones. It won’t always be possible or appropriate to communicate via phone so consider written options too. Email is good but SaaS products like Slack or Teams may be more suitable for your business.
ID sample crisis scenarios
Building out sample scenarios and your organisational responses is an important way to prepare for many of the situations you may find yourself in. What those scenarios may look like will vary greatly by organisation but get a team together and list out as many possibilities as you can.
Create guidelines for communicating with media
Having robust media guidelines is essential for managing any potentially negative situation. Ensure you appoint a dedicated spokesperson who is comfortable and confident handling difficult lines of questioning. Have a process in place for where they get their information and how much they release to the media.
Create guidelines for communication on social media
A communication plan should be holistic and contain information on how to use all channels, including social media in a crisis. Outline what can and cannot be covered and how to maintain your organisations tone on social media while covering serious topics.
Share the plan company wide and include in orientations
Once you have completed the plan, it is important everyone is made aware of it. Present your plan to every department and provide easy access to the document at all times. New starters and teams going on deployment should be provided with refresher training.