Attempting to build a working relationship with the media before a crisis ever occurs is a key strategy, according to experts.

Being a good community partner – and making sure the media knows it by distributing news releases about your good deeds - can pay dividends in the midst of a storm.

(In case you missed, it check out
part one of this series to get a good foundation on why crisis communications plans are vital for small businesses.)

When it comes to the actual crisis communications plan, the first step is to determine who should – and who should not – be a company spokesperson. These staffers become members of the crisis management team within an organization and are trained on the step-by-step instructions of what to do and when to do it during a crisis. Don’t try to anticipate every possible scenario that could happen, rather put systems in place for a smooth flow of information within and without the company.

“Concentrate on creating a modular system for communications that kicks in at the outset of the crisis and repeats itself for the duration of the event, even if the crisis takes days or weeks to resolve,” says Tim O’Brien, Principal of O’Brien Communications, a corporate communications practice in Pittsburgh.

“The plan should spell out how the team will be brought together, how they will communicate with each other, gather information, process it and approve it, and how the communications team will disseminate it. From there the schedule should be set according to the priority level of the situation.”

Stay tuned for part three of this article next week.