A crisis can strike at any time, and it is crucial for churches to be prepared with a comprehensive crisis communications plan. A crisis can range from natural disasters, outbreaks, and emergencies to accidents, theft, and accusations of misconduct. In this blog post, we will discuss the steps a church should take to establish a crisis communications plan and the scenarios they should prepare for and why.
Step 1: Assign a Crisis Management Team
The first step in creating a crisis communications plan is to establish a crisis management team. This team should be composed of members of the church leadership, including the pastor, communications director, and others who can help manage the crisis and communicate with stakeholders.
Step 2: Identify Key Stakeholders
Identifying key stakeholders is an essential step in creating a crisis communications plan. Key stakeholders can include members of the church, community leaders, the media, and others who may be affected by the crisis.
Step 3: Develop a Communication Plan
The next step is to develop a communication plan that outlines how the church will communicate with stakeholders during a crisis. This plan should include the following elements:
- A list of key stakeholders and their contact information
- A protocol for communicating with stakeholders in a crisis
- A plan for holding press conferences or issuing statements to the media
- A plan for updating stakeholders on the status of the crisis and any developments
Step 4: Prepare for Possible Scenarios
In preparing for possible crisis scenarios, it is important to consider the most likely risks faced by your church and the best ways to respond. Some common scenarios include:
- Natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes
- Outbreaks of infectious diseases such as the flu or COVID-19
- Emergencies such as fires, explosions, or chemical spills
- Accidents or incidents on church grounds
- Theft or other criminal activity
- Accusations of misconduct or mismanagement
Step 5: Conduct Regular Drills and Evaluations
Finally, it is important to conduct regular drills and evaluations to ensure that the crisis communications plan is effective and can be adapted as needed. This can include regular tabletop exercises, where the crisis management team meets to practice their response to a simulated crisis, and regular evaluations of the plan to identify areas for improvement.
In conclusion, a crisis communications plan is a critical tool for churches to have in place to effectively manage a crisis and protect their stakeholders. By following these steps and preparing for likely scenarios, churches can be better prepared to respond in the event of a crisis.
To further enhance your church’s crisis communications planning, we highly recommend the book PR Matters: A Survival Guide for Church Communicators. This comprehensive guide by Justin Dean provides detailed information on how to create and implement a crisis communications plan for your church, including best practices for managing the media, responding to negative publicity, and protecting your church’s reputation.
In the face of a crisis, having a well-planned and well-executed communications strategy can make all the difference. Don’t wait until it’s too late – take action now to ensure that your church is prepared for any crisis that may come your way. Get your copy of “PR Matters: A Survival Guide for Church Communicators” today and take the first step in protecting your church’s reputation and mission.