Crisis Communications Plan Template
Ten summary steps for building a written crisis communications plan:
1) Determine the "philosophy" of the crisis communications plan: What are the
institution's values and goals in crisis communications?
2) What is the objective of the plan: what do you hope to achieve in effectively
communicating in times of crisis?
3) What is the scope of the plan? Are there other crisis plans (such as Human Resources
or ones applying to hazardous materials)? If so, how do these interact?
4) Name a formal crisis communications team, which includes chief marketing/media
leader; chief media spokesperson and key media/PR staff; chief of law enforcement;
legal counsel; IT/webmaster; Dean of students; faculty and student representatives;
infrastructure/administration representative. The team must be reachable 24/7/365.
5) Develop a laundry list of all likely crisis scenarios that may occur. These should
include: criminal (violence, binge drinking, embezzlement, etc.); administrative
(sexual harassment, discrimination, etc.); natural disaster (hurricane, tornado, flood,
earthquake); miscellaneous (all other).
6) Segment key audiences to reach in times of crisis: e.g. Faculty/staff/students; parents;
Alumni; Donors; elected officials/business leaders, etc.
7) Develop a telephone tree of reporting lines, beginning with the university
president/chancellor and extending through the crisis team and key audiences.
Ensure you have multiple backups to the key crisis team members.
8) Fact gathering: Ensure the plan has a template for "fact gathering" and "official
response." This includes who, what, when, where, how and why issues.
9) Develop coordinated response using all strategic communications venues (free media,
web sites, etc.).
10) Evaluate/plan for long-term crisis communications implementation.