7 Keys to Crisis Message Development

coolerBrands cannot afford to be caught unprepared when a crisis strikes. Too many times, organizations try to handle the situation as it unfolds, sending out information that is inaccurate and uncoordinated. Or worse, they try to delay talking to the media and the public in the hopes that the problem will just go away. Either tactic can lead to disaster for a company’s reputation.

Your brand’s communications team should have a comprehensive crisis-management plan in place that takes into account message development. Cindy Rakowitz, CEO of Blackman Rakowitz Public Relations, shares some items to have in place when developing your crisis messaging.

  • Designated spokesperson. It is best to use a single individual to represent the company. In addition to the spokesperson, designate technical experts to provide supplemental information and support to the spokesperson.
  • Mission statement. A mission statement defines the company’s reason for existence, guiding the actions of the organization. It provides the framework for all business strategies and decisions, including crisis response.
  • Positioning. This is where a company needs to empathize with how the public perceives the crisis. If responsible, apologizing immediately wins sympathy and allies.
  • Media procedure. The PR director’s strong relationships with the media will help in the midst of a crisis. The PR staff should know how to handle the barrage of inquiries via telephone and social media. In the event of a physical disaster, an off-site media enter should be predetermined. All spokespeople should be media trained.
  • Prepared statements. Statements and news releases include the answers to who, what, where and when in response to a crisis. Demonstrating immediate concern along with an action plan will have a positive impact on public opinion.
  • Message mapping. It is imperative to anticipate every possible question in order to construct the best answers. This reinforces the public’s confidence and trust.
  • Key audiences. Prepare a list of constituents and tailor statements to address specific stakeholders.

To learn more about handling a crisis, join PR News for the Crisis Management Boot Camp, taking place on Sept. 15 in New York City.

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell

Tags: , , | Comments Off


About Richard Brownell

Richard Brownell is Group Content Manager at PR News. He has several years' experience in developing and producing online events. Richard is a published author with several titles for young audiences to his credit. He has also written political commentary for several popular websites and his stage plays have been produced in New York and other major cities.

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Measurement Conference 

Media Relations ConferenceJoin PR News at the National Press Club on Dec. 11 for the Media Relations Conference, where you'll learn how to tie your media relations initiatives to business goals, use the right metrics to prove the success of your efforts, incorporate social media in a brand crisis and more.

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Crisis Management Guidebook


Crisis management is an art, not a science. In this edition of PR News’ Book of Crisis Management Strategies & Tactics, you will discover many different views on this art, and you are certain to find takeaways that will transform the way your organization handles crises. 

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.