When you run a small business it’s easy to want to focus on the big things. Things that will impact your revenue, or bring you publicity to get your name out there.

Nobody plans for a crisis to happen, but you should be prepared for when it does.

If your business has any number of employees or customers it’s important that you dedicate some time of business admin to creating or at least considering creating a Crisis Communication Plan. In times of uncertainty, stepping up to the role of leadership is vitally important to help reassure your employees and clients that things are under control.

What is a Crisis Communication Plan?

A Crisis Communication plan is what the name suggests: a plan to communicate with employees, clients, and customers during a crisis that effects business significantly. A crisis could be anything from a global Coronavirus pandemic, to a stock market crash, to allegations against your company or an employee. A Crisis Communication Plan should take into account both financial and reputational losses for your business.

A Crisis Communication Plan usually involves things such as internal and external comms, risk assessment charts, financial assessment charts, and emergency response plans, and checklists. Unless you’re a big company or have a big budget or a lot of free time, it’s hard to create thorough and actionable Crisis Communication Plans for every eventuality. But it is good practice to have a general overview of how your business would and should react in a crisis.

What should I include in my Crisis Communication Plan?

Your Crisis Communication plan should address:

  • What needs to be done as soon as the crisis happens.
  • Who needs to be reached and how
  • How to prevent the crisis from reoccurring (if applicable)

Because when it hits the fan, you don’t want to be scrambling around trying to decide what to do and how to do it.

That old saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” stands true here (or, to use the more British phrase: “Proper Prior Planning Prevents P** Poor Performance”). Even if you aren’t able to plan for every possible crisis, you should at least know how.

These are the things you should start thinking about when things are going well.

Having more than one way to contact your staff in an emergency is non-negotiable. Phone numbers and next of kin contacts are always useful. Gathering or creating Crisis Comms Templates is a great way to ensure that you are prepared to communicate quickly and effectively in the face of change. Assessing which of your staff or operations are business-critical and which can be paused in an emergency is also important.

Having quick access to long term financial forecasts is important too. If you want to be extra prepared, you could even start mapping out some potential performance issues. How would you business cope if revenue halved overnight? What about if revenue ceased completely? If there was an issue with the supply chain, what would your business look like?

Is a Crisis Communication Plan necessary even though my business is small?

Yes. A Crisis Communication Plan is necessary, even if your business is small.

Asking yourself these questions can be terrifying, after all nobody wants to think about their business failing, but preparing for the worst is the best thing you could possibly do.

In a crisis, nobody regrets the hours of work they put into preparing, but you’ll surely miss it if you don’t plan properly.