Continuity of Operations

Within 24 hours, I completed something of a crisis boot-camp–AAM’s crisis communications webinar and a Google hangout on the subject with Suzanne and my colleague Amy Wike.

The webinar focused on PR crises, like news of an institution’s financial mismanagement, corrupt leadership, endangered visitors, or perceived betrayal of the public trust.

Our hangout explored crisis planning and management more broadly–the structures an institution puts in place to ensure operations continue in the event of disaster, from snowstorm to pandemic to act of terror.

Both approaches were valuable, and takeaways overlapped:

  • know your crisis team–enfranchise senior officials responsible for leadership, personnel, finances, facility, security, information systems, legal, and collections
  • inventory communications tools/anticipate disruptions–run scenarios in which all platforms function (e-blasts, media calls, press releases, tweets, status updates, homepage alerts), but plan for a world without internet or phone service
  • create an information release grid–chart your constituent groups (gov. officials, trustees, members, staff, media, general public, etc.), identify the communications channels that best connect with each, and sequence your message(s)
  • site-proof your plan–keep all components (key contacts, release grid, etc.) in a secure, digital space (e.g. Google docs) and maintain strategic hard-copies off-site
  • stay on guard–anticipate, plan, and monitor potential issues all the time, while crises can still be averted or managed
  • keep track–craft a situation analysis and refine it as new information emerges; log (and respond to) all media inquiries and document posts to your social networks