How to Develop
a Communications Plan


How to Develop
a Communications Plan

Sample Plan 1
from PRSA

Sample Plan 2
from ARA

Sample Plan 3
from King County Library System

New: Sample Plan 4
from "Any County" School System

Crisis Communication Quick Reference

Crisis Communication Quick Reference

Contributed anonymously by a member of PRSA's Association Section.

  • What is known for a certainty about the crisis situation?

  • What is possibly true but cannot be verified yet?

  • What is the worst possible outcome of this crisis?

  • Who will be hurt by this crisis?

  • Who might be blamed for this crisis?

  • What could be misunderstood?

  • How can we help?

  • What cannot be said because of confidentiality, privacy, or other reasons?
  • Act quickly.

  • Inform management.

  • Determine who will be the spokesperson.

  • Prepare a statement that may include one or more of the following points:
    • sympathy for the victims
    • how help will be given
    • where we stand

  • Determine best way to distribute statement (news conference or fax).

  • Prepare for interviews.

  • Set up channels of communication so that any change or new information about the crisis is conveyed to the spokesperson.

  • Arrange for media to have 24-hour access to a spokesperson.

  • Keep all on the team up-to-date.
  • Be open and responsive to requests from the news media.

  • Keep your answers brief, factual, and to the point.

  • Show your concern for others affected by the crisis.

  • Tell your own bad news first.

  • Let other organizations speak for themselves.

  • Avoid speculation. Don't assume anything. Politely decline to respond to hypothetical questions.

  • Don't place blame.

  • If you don't know the answer or are unsure about what to say, it is better not to say anything. Offer to get back to the reporter with accurate information. Be sure to follow up with the reporter as soon as you have the facts.

  • Do not reveal confidential information.

  • Don't say, "No comment." Instead, explain why the information is not available.

  • Don't be evasive or misleading.

  • Respect reporters' deadlines.
  • Promptly correct erroneous statements made by others.

  • Think of possible outcomes and prepare tentative responses.

  • Be willing to adapt responses as circumstances change.

  • Keep reporters up-to-date.

  • Evaluate what worked well and what could have been done better.

Back to top

Questions or comments? Email Robin Mayhall