I remember my first crisis communications plan. It was for the Nation Newspaper. My boss at the time looked it, said that it was a great document to have and it sat on both his desk and mine.
The company I worked for was the chaser of the news and hence the paranoia that companies face at being undone by the media did not exist. As a consultant now however my clients are placing high value on crisis communications and am reaping high yields from planning. Crisis planning is a wonderful exercise as it forces organisations to look critically at their operations and in doing so a number of incites are gain not just to deal with crises but to help make the everyday operations run smoother.
The recent H1N1 Virus has become a potential crisis for all the border control agencies. Working with the Barbados Port Inc. has made me become an expert on the Virus and the best ways to prevent yourself from getting it. Having had its own crisis when a ship was reportedly coming into the port with a suspected case, the Port Inc. put an interim plan in place that included posters in strategic areas, brochures on H1N1 for all staff and training for staff by nurses. It also put in place a strategy to deal with similar situations in terms of its communications to staff.
In preparing the materials my first source of course was the local Ministry of Health. The very solid source that provided posters, brochures and lots of daily updates was the Centers for Disease Control. I was just reading my Strategist and saw that the CDC was mentioned in the Forward Thinking Article under the heading What PR Pros Can Learn from the CDC's Swine Flu Communications. I would say a lot. Some of the tactics they used: Empowering persons like me who wanted information to help others; Made searching simple and accessible and had fresh information 24/7.
Great use and exhibit of PR at its Best.