Three Myths About Crisis Communications Planning

In my career working on crisis planning and communications, I have heard many excuses why a company doesn’t have, or need, a crisis plan. The bottom line is, developing a plan is not expensive or overly time consuming and can mean the difference between success or failure for an organization when a crisis hits. 

Here are the three misconceptions I often hear from potential clients to rationalize why their organization doesn’t need a crisis plan.

MYTH ONE: Most crises are caused by things outside my company’s control so I can’t really plan for it.

TRUTH: There is only an 18% chance that a crisis will be caused by an outside force.  Half of all crises are caused by management and the rest are caused by employees (per Institute for Crisis Management). And, if you have a plan, you are more likely to be aware of a potential crisis erupting before it’s too late.

TWO: We did a crisis plan a few years ago that will get us through any crisis

TRUTH: Chances are that plan is on a shelf somewhere and hasn’t been reviewed in years – and some, if not all of the potential members of the crisis team don’t even know it exists. I reviewed a crisis plan for an organization recently that still recommended having a manual typewriter available in case the power went out and they needed to write a press release.  I didn’t ask them what they would do to get that typewritten release to the media. 

Here are the questions to ask about your old plan:

  • Do you know where that crisis plan is? 
  • Has it been reviewed or updated in the past 18 months?
  • Are the contacts in it still current?
  • What does it say about social media? Are the messages still relevant?
  • Are the individuals assigned to the crisis management team aware of their role?
  • Has there been a training session for them?

THREE: We don’t need a plan. We have a great PR team.

TRUTH: No matter how good your PR team is, they can’t manage a crisis without input and support from the rest of the company, especially top management. The old adage, the buck stops here, is never truer than it is in a crisis.  If management isn’t on board and sincere in their response to a crisis, no professional PR team can help them.  Just ask Tony Hayward and BP. 

So, does your organization have a crisis communications plan? If no, why not? 

Contact me at and let’s fix that.