A crisis is a sudden explosive
event with major consequences.
How you handle a crisis can:
rally support, calm a nervous public, and provide needed
undermine public trust, incite high tensions and spread
From the moment a crisis strikes, the clock is ticking.
In today’s digital age, news is instantaneous and the
media will not wait for you to get organized to put out
a news story.
Step 1.Determine a spokesperson
Identify one individual that is knowledgeable,
articulate and accessible, to represent your
organization and make official statements and
answer media questions throughout the crisis. The
right messenger is critical.
Step 2.Create an Emergency Phone Tree
• Include procedures and contact information
needed for coordinating with important partners.
Ex. other water utilities, health agencies,
emergency responders, law enforcement, elected
officials, and state and federal government
agencies, as appropriate.
Step 3. Identify preferred communications
• You know the best way to reach your
stakeholders. Determine the most effective
outlets/mechanisms for disseminating information
quickly. Ex. telephone hotlines, radio
announcements, news conferences, Web site
updates, broadcast, print and/or social media.
Step 4: Create a social media presence
• Social media has changed the way the public is
informed. Don’t wait to create a social media
presence until a crisis hits.
Step 5: Media Lists
• Create lists of reporters that cover your
industry/geographical region, and update
periodically, so you know who to contact
• Identify your organization’s stakeholders and
their possible questions.
• Think about the questions you are most likely to
be asked, and which ones you do not want to
• Analyze the questions to identify the underlying
• Develop three key messages and no more than
three supporting facts.
• Practice effective message delivery before a crisis
• Utilize the bridging technique to get back to your
Think about your tone.
Do NOT speculate or say, “No Comment.”
And remember….perception is reality.
Step 1: Consider Best Approach for
• Low Urgency – newsletter (also good as follow up)
• Higher Urgency – press release, one-on-one
• Highest Urgency – press conference
• Press releases should reflect the organization’s
overall messages, leadership role, and resource
• They should attempt to reinforce the positive and
be action/solution oriented if possible.
• Include quote, contact information and boilerplate.
Evaluate Your Response
• Evaluate message effectiveness as the situation
• Implement methods for updating key audiences
with ongoing information.
• Distribute post-crisis communications.
• Review your crisis communications plan annually.
Final Media Relations Tips
• Do not repeat the negative
• Do not fill dead air
• Know when to say when