Since most crises take a company by surprise, have a crisis management plan that kicks in automatically. In the plan, outline who will talk to the media, under what conditions, and who will respond if the designated person is not available.
Create established channels for internal communication. Communicate with employees through email, face-to-face discussion, or letters. When facing legal crisis, involve either internal counsel or your external legal advisor immediately.
Try to minimize the lag time between the first signs of trouble and an appropriate response from the company. The sooner you present the facts, the sooner the rumors disappear.
Don’t respond to unfounded stories. It only gives them credibility.
Establish a relationship with a PR firm before you face a crisis so they will know enough about your business to give you solid advice.
Cooperating with, not obstructing the media will help you get your message out.
Avoid “no comment.” If you don’t know an answer, say you don’t know but will find out. Don’t encourage the media to go searching for another source of information. Be it and be accurate.
Executives should be accessible to the press and amenable to interviews during non-crisis times. Then, when and if a crisis occurs, the media are less likely to be unfair or too harsh.
Think about a “crisis drill” the way you would a fire drill. Have a plan, communicate it, and then practice it when people aren’t expecting it to happen.
Before crisis strikes, build a strong reputation for social responsibility in the community and trust among your employees. Trying to back peddle during the crisis can never have the same effect that proactive efforts produce.