The goal for any crisis communications plan is to control your message while you control the crisis. If you don't, you suddenly have two crises, the original event and a secondary crisis of a poor response.
You need three key tools for effectively communicating during a crisis:
It's important to have a plan in place so that you're able to manage your message and respond to the media in a timely manner. A plan involves selecting key personnel and what responsibilities they will have, a point person for social media, a media distribution list and determining your media staging area if you believe one will be needed. That's just to get the ball rolling.
It's essential to convey that you're in control, capable of handling the situation. You want to appear positive and competent. Don't whine, complain or blame. The public wants to see you fixing the situation -- they don't really care that it's a problem for you.
Almost any crisis is going to involve people who are inconvenienced or traumatized. It's important to always keep your tone consistent with the crisis. Do not be seen smiling or laughing when families are grieving. Language should always reflect this.
Don't say you'll have it fixed in 48 hours if you won't. If anything, overestimate and then beat that deadline.
Mack Communications | Twitter: @mack_comm