When we hear the word ‘crisis’, we think about a situation that is generally out of our control, perhaps caused by external factors, a situation which will cause havoc regardless of your implication in it. Adopting this approach can trigger a wide range of negative effects in times of crisis.
Not being prepared for a crisis, no matter its nature, is something you can’t fix on the spot, so when the time comes, without an already-implemented crisis communication plan, it will be difficult to handle the unfolding events. Crises arise in all environments, not just in the case of institutions such as the police or the firefighting department but a variety of industries from financial services to manufacturing.
Corporate crises are more common than people think, and being prepared for them makes the difference between recovering with grace from the impact, and having to work months, if not years to undo the damage to the brand.
Why have a crisis communication plan?
Whether we are talking about minor disturbances or severe situations, a crisis communication plan will provide you with the means you need to handle the crisis with promptness and professionalism. Just imagine what a disaster it would be if you would have to come up with a plan on the spot, not have a designated team in place, no multi-channel emergency notification software at your disposal, or no crisis communications message templates to help you best handle the situation. A plan developed based on a clear outline and precise implementation steps is mandatory for anyone from first responders in case of natural disasters or other large-scale impact crisis situations, to corporate crisis communications teams. Make sure the team in charge of both crafting and implementing the crisis plan will cover these three aspects: operations, communications, and subject matter expertise. If the members of your team are not familiar with everything that goes into a crisis communication plan, you can delegate some of its phases to outside providers of such services.
Multi-Channel Crisis Communications Message Templates
The most important aspect in a crisis communications strategy is the message. Yet the message in itself does not provide all the solutions. It needs to be tailor to fit the needs of your target audience, it needs to be broadcasted through a multi-channel environment, it needs to be broadcasted with swiftness and flawlessly. There are templates you can use regarding the messages you will need to send. And yes, while they too vary from one situation to the other, having a number of templates integrated in your plan will significantly minimize the risks of crisis communications failure.
General Security Alert Message Template
The general security alert message template should be clear and brief, tailored so that it can be sent on all communications channels. It should be specific in directions, but general in information as it is the first message you will be sending and might not have all the information you need at your disposal. General security alert messages are meant to provide people with knowledge that there is an emergency and assurance regarding their safety.
Security Alert at [organization name]
Shelter is in place. Lock all doors and windows and await further instructions.
Please check [url]* for more information.
[time of delivery]
*website where to check for real-time updates about the situation; this can also be a social media handle if such an account will be used to provide security updates
Keep in mind to always include a time of delivery mention, so that people who might see the message at another time then when you sent it know the time frame of the situation. If you will also be sending this security alert message by email, use ‘Security Alert at [organization name]’ as the subject line. This type of message should be followed by an “all clear” message which you will need to send once the situation has been resolved.
Scheduled Servers Maintenance Message Template
In the event of scheduled maintenance being performed by the IT department, you should always have a message template in place to send your employees. This will help them save all their work in time, and avoid any problems in trying to access the server-based documents while the maintenance is in progress.
Scheduled maintenance on [day] starting [time].
Please save all your work and close all opened documents before [time].
The downtime will be [hours]. Let us know if you encounter any issues once the servers are online.
Severe Weather Conditions Message Template
Having a severe weather conditions message template which you can immediately send out when needed can reduce number of damages, and you can use it in the case you want to alert people to the fact that due to weather conditions, the organization will be closed for a period of time.
Ongoing severe weather conditions.
All activities will be suspended starting [time]
Please refer to [person in charge of emergencies] for assistance.
For more information, check [url]
This type of message can also be used in the case of natural disasters, if the situation will impose a suspension of activities or if your organization is in the vicinity of an affected area. If more information is available at the time of message delivery such as weather reports, or indications from first responders you can include it in the message.
Structural Damage Message Template
A structural damage message needs to be send out in the case of a damage to the building you are conducting your business from. It could be a water leak, a gas leak, a fire, or any other issues which might occur with the structure of the building, issues you need to inform all those inside the building, but also those responsible for emergency situations.
ATTENTION! Structural damage alert at [organization name] [address]
We have been made aware of a structural damage.
Please evacuate if you find yourself in the building. If not, stay clear of the area.
For updates, please visit [url]
Based on the channels you are sending the message through, you can include more information or contact information. The important thing to broadcast is the existence of a crisis and the measures to assure the safety of those involved.
Active Shooter Message Template
As much as no one wants to think about such a tragedy enfolding at their organization, this is a mandatory template you need to have in your crisis communication plan. As grim as the possibility of such an event sounds, in active shooters situations a notification sent in time might turn out to be life-saving.
ARMED INTRUDER ALERT at [ORGANIZATION NAME]!
TAKE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!
Police are responding to the situation. More information to follow.
[url for real-time updates] [time & date]
Create more templates based on previously encountered situations and/or the vicinity of your organization to areas in which natural or manmade disasters may occur. Having a database of templates alongside your crisis communication plan will ensure the safety of everyone involved, keep your customers informed, and help you manage a crisis, regardless of its nature.