Communicating during a crisis


Take these three steps to make sure you can reach your team members and communicate critical news.

Just like insurance policies that you maintain to lessen the blow of disasters you hope will never come, a well-conceived crisis communications plan can be invaluable if you ever find yourself in a potentially image-damaging situation such as employee emergencies, weather-related emergencies, customer satisfaction issues, and so on. There's no substitute for advance planning. So whether you find yourself in the midst of a problem situation or are trying to prevent one (good for you!), take these three steps to get started:

1. Develop an emergency communication protocol. For example, everyone needs to know who has the complete list of team members' home and mobile phone numbers, who can be reached at home, and whether it's OK to call at 2 a.m.

2. Inventory your team's capabilities. Who of your staff knows CPR and first aid? Who can speak a foreign language?

3. Think about what potential problems you're most likely to face. Then talk to your team about what you'd do in those situations.

Rebecca Hart, an accredited public relations professional, is a consultant and the co-founder of, a Web site offering tools and information for the veterinary profession.

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