How to Write a Crisis Communications Plan

Companies and organizations want to avoid negative media or public attention that will harm their reputation or brand. One way to minimize damage from a crisis is to have a crisis communications plan in place. Managing the way a company reacts to any crisis will help defuse the problem and get the business back to work. Write a crisis communications plan that will ensure the continued integrity and work flow of your business or organization during difficult times.


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    Assemble a team. The crisis communications team should include the President or CEO, the Vice President, and other key communications and public relations personnel. Include compliance and risk management staff as well, to make sure that all necessary reporting requirements are included in the event of a crisis.
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    Designate a spokesperson. A crisis communications plan requires a single, consistent voice that can communicate to the public and other stakeholders on behalf of the company. The spokesperson should be articulate, and comfortable in front of large crowds and the media.
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    Establish media policies. Make sure the company understands that no one except the spokesperson is authorized to speak to reporters or members of the media. Write specific policies into the plan that address what employees are and are not permitted to say about the situation or the company.
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    Prepare statements. Statements and reactions to crises often cannot be written in advance because the response will depend on the situation. However, the crisis communications plan should have some prepared statements available that can be immediately released to the public and the media. These statements might include the company's history, values and commitment to service and community. Have collateral materials available such as brochures, newsletters and videos that will give the public some basic information on the company.
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    Identify key audiences. If a crisis occurs, you will want to reach out to key stakeholders personally before they hear about any bad news in the media. Make sure the crisis communications plan identifies who those audiences are. They might include employees, clients, customers, board members, donors, legislative or regulatory bodies that might have an interest, and other partners and supporters.
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    Establish a process. The communications plan must have an established timeline that starts with who is notified once a crisis occurs, and what happens next. Establish a meeting time and place for the crisis communications team to immediately address the situation internally.
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    Test the plan. Assess what crisis situations are the most likely to strike your company. Have a practice drill and run through the plan to make sure you have not ignored any challenges or opportunities. After the test, re-evaluate the plan and make any necessary changes.
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    Communicate the plan to key stakeholders. Share the crisis communications plan with employees and other interested parties. Knowing that a plan is in place will provide extra peace of mind.


  • Keep the crisis communications plan flexible. Your company needs to be able to move quickly according to the situation. Do not limit yourself or your actions by keeping the plan too structured.

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Categories: Official Writing and Complaints