A crisis can hit your business hard when you least expect it, and it can have devastating effects. Having a robust, streamlined crisis communication plan is critical to weathering the storm and ensuring that your business can come out the other side with its reputation intact.

Effective crisis communication isn’t rocket science, but it can be difficult to set out a coherent, impactful plan in the midst of a problem. Any savvy business owner should prepare a plan well before it’s needed, as this will make it easier to navigate any business disaster. Here are 6 tips to handle crisis communication in your business.

1) Make Sure All Employees Are Prepared

Crisis communication team in meeting
Crisis communication team in meeting

In the middle of a crisis, your employees will often be the ones who are dealing with the public and finding themselves in awkward situations. It’s crucial that you prepare your employees so they know how to handle this, diffuse tense situations, and deal with difficult questions.

Mid-crisis is the worst time to do this. Do yourself, and your employees, a favor and start preparing everyone in your business before one has even begun brewing.

2) Create A Crisis Communications Team

Don’t wait for a problem to rear its head; assemble your crisis communications team now. Once your business is experiencing a crisis, you want to focus on disseminating damage-limiting communications, not rounding up a team of people who are equipped to deal with the situation.

Stay one step ahead of the game and bring together a team who can be relied on to take the reins in any situation. Legal advisers, PR gurus, senior executives and managers should all take a seat on this team, as should anyone with subject-specific knowledge relating to particular issues.

3) Train Your Team

Your team needs to undergo rigorous crisis communications training. This goes beyond the basic preparation that should involve all employees.

In particular, members of your team must be trained in the art of public speaking. While speaking in front of a crowd comes naturally to some people, anyone can get flustered under pressure, so ensure they’re taught techniques to deal with difficult or prying questions.

As a leader or manager, it’s essential to allocate resources toward the development of your team’s public speaking abilities, in order to ensure that they are equipped to represent your organization in the best possible light. By investing in a corporate public speaking workshop, you can help your team members build their confidence and improve their communication skills. This can translate to better performance in all areas of your business, as your employees learn to communicate more effectively with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders. Plus, it can help boost morale and foster a sense of teamwork and camaraderie within your organization.

A good way to train your team is to run through some “what if” scenarios and discuss how they would react. In addition, pay attention to how recent crises were handled by other companies. Using a few examples as case studies can help you learn what to do and what to avoid.

4) Prepare Statements

Entrepreneur writing crisis statement on phone
Entrepreneur writing crisis statement on phone

While it’s impossible to prepare a one-size-fits-all statement, it’s wise to write a generic holding statement that can be used in times of crisis. This will allow you to issue reassurance quickly, while behind the scenes you can remain focused on solving the problem.

5) Maintain Integrity

Transparency and honesty are key to successful crisis communication. If the time has come to make a more specific statement than the generic statement covered in the previous point, but you still don’t have the facts, be honest and open about that. Whatever you do, don’t say anything that you may have to back-track on. Focus on maintaining the integrity of your business.

It’s essential to seek advice from legal and PR professionals when making any public statements. Anything that has been said can’t be erased, so make sure you get it right the first time.

6) Manage Your Social Media Platforms

For many businesses, social media is one of the key ways in which they communicate with their customer base. While a crisis is likely to massively increase your workload, it’s not an excuse to neglect your socials.

A business crisis is probably one of the biggest challenges you will ever face. By using the tips above,  you can ensure that your business is ready to pump out effective crisis communications, whatever the future may throw at you.

Have any more tips for handling crisis communication for your business? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.