Will your crisis plan be ready when it matters?

Do you have a crisis PR plan in place? Is your plan ready to get ahead of the bad news, grab the headlines and regain control of the message? Maybe you do … but here’s the most important question: “When was the last time you updated it?”

An old plan may not be ready for prime time, and you don’t want to find that out when it matters. But reading and reviewing your plan isn’t enough to effectively determine if it will be ready when you need it. You should have a consistent, step by step plan for testing and evaluating your crisis plan, so you know it will offer you the best protection when the chips are down. With that in mind, here are a few questions everyone should ask when evaluating – or creating – a working crisis PR plan.

1 – Is my plan flexible enough to address challenges at every level of my organization?

You don’t know where a crisis will hit you or your organization. Will it be a mistake by corporate leadership? A stupid tweet or terrible decision by a mid-level manager? Laziness by a technician or manufacturing employee that puts everything at risk? It could be all of these or any of them. So, if you don’t have a plan in place to establish the right audience, craft the correct message and get that message out in the best ways, you will find yourself standing flat footed after the race has already begun.

2 – Who is your key audience, really?

These days, especially in the midst of a PR crisis, it can feel like you’re being attacked by everyone from every direction. But that doesn’t mean you need to try to interact with every one of those people. One key aspect of an effective crisis PR plan is to build your message around the core audience you absolutely need to reach. Start there, nail that down first, before moving on to everyone else.

3 – Are you guessing or testing?

When you take a message to market, it should already be proven. You do not want to toss an untested idea out into a rabid, raging PR crisis environment. The right step here is to test the message with actual members of your core group before you go live with the big message to the entire group.

4 – Are your communication channels optimal for your current message?

Media is shifting. Have you shifted your expectations and operations accordingly? As consumer media appetites and expectations change, you need to know who’s consuming which media in order to properly address the best market for your message.

While this is not an exhaustive list of questions you could ask, if you make sure you have good answers to these questions, you are on the right track to keeping your crisis PR plan fresh, appropriate and ready for action.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.

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