Spring Cleaning: Issues & Crisis Planning

Spring Cleaning: Issues & Crisis Planning


It’s one of those things on every communications director’s to-do list…  review the crisis and issues preparedness plan.

With time always in short supply, issues and crisis planning can drop down the list of priorities and sometimes put off completely.  It’s a bit like cleaning your oven - the longer you leave it, the larger the job. Yes, you know it’s there, it needs to be tackled.

Running a review or a drill, even once a year, can be massive undertaking. It requires a significant time, resource and budget investment, including all global external and internal communications teams, agencies as well as senior business executives. 

Unless they are managing issues daily, most companies are guilty of letting their crisis communications plan gather dust. With that in mind, here are some thoughts on how to break down planning throughout the year.

Every month

  • Share updated version of plan internal stakeholders with a fresh date stamp to and upload to central defined location (intranet, closed workgroup)
  • Check the escalation process and routing/contact list to account for changes in people’s roles and responsibilities, turnover
  • Monitoring: Circulate a ‘heatmap’ of internal issues (customers, workforce, performance) and external factors (industry trends, policy changes, pricing issues) to key stakeholders and executives

Twice a year

  • Check resources. Review templates, mini-drill of test escalation process with communications team
  • Refresh external stakeholders list (social media, traditional media, partner and customer ecosystem)
  • Road test digital and social media channels. Review company dark website/microsite requirements, social media processes and guidelines

Once a year

  • Business-wide vulnerability audit. Identify mid- to long-term potential crises through formal interviews with business leads, sales team, field-based and regional managers.  Pinpoint possible scenarios for formal drill
  • Mandatory media training for spokespersons
  • Formal drill and controlled crisis simulation, including executives, communications teams
  • Review and update plan and repeat

If you’re thinking of refreshing or putting your plan through its paces, or anticipating a potential issue, here at EMG, we’re well-versed in issues management and crisis planning and management.

Unfortunately, we don’t clean ovens!