Even if you have a well-designed triage response plan for social and traditional media, a crisis can demand extra personnel. How should you prepare to meet those extra demands for eyes, ears, and hands during the initial stages of a crisis? Is outsourcing your only hope? Here are some suggestions on what you can do now to confidently face the overload that a crisis can demand.
Build an In-House Team to Help
Many of the tasks that a crisis produces can be handled by people in-house with minimum training. Choose people for your team that multi-task well and won't fold under the pressure of real-time demands. Decide which tasks in your crisis plan you can delegate and set up a training program for your team. You should consider running some table top (practice) exercises that simulate a real crisis as part of their training.
Start With Monitoring
One of the easiest duties to delegate in the initial stages of a crisis is monitoring. If you have a well-developed triage response plan, you can set up a monitoring crew that funnels important messages and posts to the proper people on the communications team. You should have a basic listening dashboard set up before the crisis and using that dashboard should be part of your team's basic training.
They should have assigned listening tasks that include the following:
- Monitor social channels for legitimate questions and send them to the proper person for answering. Team members should have access to all the public information on the event and the authority to answer basic questions that don't require attention from the crisis team.
- Monitor sentiment. Identify and keep track of the positive and negative influencers.
- Train your in-house team to listen to the important conversations.
- Have regular reporting templates and logs for incoming messages, if you don't have a dashboard such as Meltwater Buzz or Radian 6 that tracks and sorts the information.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
The bottom line: A good crisis team plan can help prepare your organization to handle some of the most important tasks in a crisis leaving the leadership free to deal with the crisis. Go through your crisis plan and earmark tasks that could be handled by others in your organization, and start forming your team today.
I also recommend having the phone numbers of professional crisis management agencies that can help you respond when you need outside help. The CKSyme.org team has real-time experience with crisis events in education and organizations, and we also have connections with other agencies that have specialties outside our areas of expertise. We also offer on-site training so you can be prepared to be your own media" in a crisis. Be sure and contact us if you need some help or advice with a crisis. You can find our contact information here.