Developing a communications strategy

The incident management team should agree a strategy for media communications as soon as possible. This should make clear who is allowed to speak to the media, the headline messages they should be conveying and the process through which more detailed communications should be developed. This process needs to be dynamic and adaptive.

Bear in mind the following points:

  • consider whom to appoint as media spokesperson(s); seniority should be taken into account (it can help to underline the seriousness with which the company is treating the incident, but can expose key people)
  • the spokesperson(s) should be well briefed to be able to respond to unanticipated questions
  • ensure consistency, and simplicity, of message by using the same person/team for all media contact (other people should be instructed to refer any media queries to the spokesperson or the sub-group dealing with the incident)
  • whether the company has a general human rights statement or policy which may be referred to in any communications or borne in mind in crafting media messages
  • for large-scale incidents, where ongoing media communications will be needed over a long period, you may want to rotate spokespersons to avoid "burn-out" (or because there is just too much for one person to handle)
  • where incidents have a cross-border element, you will likely need to appoint different contact people in each market