Quick question for you. When was the last time you updated your crisis management plan? If it’s more than a year old, it’s already out of date.

That may seem a little harsh. But given the unrestrained pace of social media and the voracious 24-hour news cycle, obsolescence of crisis communication happens in months, not years.

Here are five “Rules of the Road” to follow as you update your strategy for handling crisis and contentious communications:

Identify Crisis Team Members and Subject Experts.

Keep team contact information and media contacts current, since staffs constantly change, and identify potential industry advocates as they emerge. Train teammates and practice talking points with an eye on super-short news cycles and truncated digital feeds. Update at least quarterly.

Think Social.

Know which platforms are used most often by customers and clients. Be aware of and join closed interest groups to see conversations that impact your efforts; follow feeds on other platforms, too. And understand how to appropriately develop messaging and responses via each platform. If you don’t yet have this section in your plan, add it immediately.

Update Action Plans

Conduct regular scenario planning exercises and role-play development and responses to potential issues, realizing global is now local and vice versa. Test these plans. Confirm they are rapid, responsible, targeted and responsive—and that messaging is fittingly compassionate and on-point.

Monitor Mentions and Discussions

Early detection is key. Assign internal monitors to note social and traditional media mentions of your organization and key topics. Monitor media/customer responses as a crisis evolves, intervening as needed. Digital tools keep evolving; what you used last year may not be the standard this year.

It’s Not Over Yet

The crisis may have ended, but online evidence—and often misinformation—continues to linger. Engage in a positive, proactive, searchable effort to populate accurate information backed by fact to ensure your story is told.

Bonus Infographic:

Download this shareable & printable infographic PDF.

C|O Insights

The pace of everything—including crisis communication—has accelerated, and so must your approach to this essential reputation tool. Now is the time to update your plan. We can help you be better prepared. Contact Mark Gale at mark.g@co-nxt.com or call 262.563.5100.