By Paula Anderson

Planning for a crisis is not optional; it is mandatory for small businesses and entrepreneurs who may experience a temporary loss of revenue or operations. COVID-19 revealed a lot of opportunities for businesses to consider when everything is going well. The disruption halted every industry except food services, healthcare, postal services and media companies.

Many have defined COVID-19 as healthcare and economic crises. The government, corporations, schools, universities, restaurants and live events were impacted. As a result, a new term was added to our vocabulary – “social distancing.”  The shutdown of our economy created uncertainty and instability within businesses. Some businesses were able to adapt with little to no disruption whereas a lot of businesses were scrambling trying to figure out the next move.

When issues or crises arise, it is important to have a Crisis Communication Plan (CCP) in place. A Crisis Communication Plan consists of the following:

  • Crisis Communication Plan
  • Crisis Communication Team
  • Communication Channels
  • Strategies
  • Evaluation Measures

An effective Crisis Communication Plan will outline the steps that will be taken in the event of a crisis. Depending on the crisis type, the plan may vary due to circumstances. It serves as a guide to help with strategic thinking and how to involve the correct people.

The Crisis Communication Team includes the following people: crisis manager, communication spokesperson, legal team, social media manager, public relations department, media advisors and human resources.

Each of these individuals play a key role in executing the CCP. Assigned tasks and responsibilities will be given at various stages in the CCP.

One of the most important aspects of a CCP is communication to stakeholders, employees and community supporters. Stakeholders are internal and external individuals who have a vested interest in the company or organization. 

During COVID-19, the event planning industry was disrupted and numerous live events had to be cancelled, postponed or offered virtually. 

Companies, organizations and event planners relied on Eventbrite, an online ticketing company, to promote and collect money for events. Eventbrite responded immediately to the crisis and began communicating with event planners and goers early on through emails, blogs and social media platforms.  

Choosing the correct communication platform is important for businesses. Communicate based on the channel that is best for your stakeholders. Traditional media, social media, a company website and emails are all appropriate channels. When you communicate with stakeholders, it lets them know that you are concerned about them and their business needs. 

Strategies focus on ways to mitigate the crisis, so that it does not disrupt the organization’s revenue stream or shut down the business operations. It was almost impossible to stop the “bleeding,” therefore, financial resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners were implemented through relief efforts and loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

There was not a blueprint to address COVID-19, so strategies and tactics were developed in real-time. The most pressing issues were focusing on how to be safe while adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of working remotely and how to continue business operations.

Finally, all CCPs need to have an evaluation measurement to determine what was done well and any improvements for the next crisis situation, which could be totally different from COVID-19. A crisis can occur at any time, and it is best to handle the situation based on a proposed action plan even if it has to change.

Resources:

https://www.cassling.com/knowledge-center/six-elements-of-a-crisis-communication-plan

Paula Anderson is the founder and president of Writing by Design Media. She can be reached at writingbydesign7@gmail.com.

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Abigail DaSilva
Abigail DaSilva is the marketing coordinator at NBIC, channeling her passion and creativity to support the organization’s mission of leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs. A proud graduate of Tennessee State University, Abigail holds a degree in design, which fuels her artistic sensibilities and impeccable eye for aesthetics. Before joining NBIC, Abigail embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey alongside her brother, where she spearheaded the sales and marketing efforts of their own venture. This experience honed her skills in strategic promotion, customer engagement, and marketing media. Abigail has played a crucial role in the company, transforming their media marketing strategies, specifically towards a more video-driven approach. Recognizing the power of visual storytelling, she has created compelling content and innovative campaigns that have amplified NBIC’s reach and engagement, strengthening their online presence and impact. Outside of her professional endeavors, Abigail is an avid art buff, frequently visiting museums and exploring immersive experiences that combine technology and creativity. She also has a deep love for travel, shopping, and anything that allows her to utilize her creative mind. With her unwavering commitment and broad range of experience, Abigail is a valuable asset to NBIC. She remains eager to push boundaries, elevate engagement, and empower entrepreneurs through her exceptional marketing expertise.
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Anne-Marie Tanner is the Programs Coordinator at NBIC. With a Master’s degree in strategic marketing from Midway University and a Bachelor’s degree in design from University of Kentucky, she brings a unique blend of business experience and creativity to her work. Prior to joining NBIC in March of 2023, Anne-Marie worked as a small business and startup consultant, where she gained valuable experience in guiding entrepreneurs through the challenges and opportunities of launching and growing their businesses. Her expertise in strategic planning and her ability to quickly grasp new concepts makes her a strong asset to the NBIC team. As the Programs Coordinator at NBIC, Anne-Marie manages multiple components, including Foundations, E-Myth, Framework, and Groundwork. Anne-Marie values collaboration and strives to align her work with the vision and expectations of her colleagues. Beyond her professional career, Anne-Marie has a wide range of hobbies and passions. She is an accomplished Olympic weight-lifter. Additionally, with her husband, she started a medical clinic in Martin, TN, a brewery and events center in Paris, TN, and an airbnb property. Their goal is not only to build successful businesses, but also to provide economic stability and job opportunities to as many people as possible. With her extensive background in business, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her commitment to personal growth, Anne-Marie Tanner is an extremely valuable asset to NBIC. Her diverse skill set and positive mindset make her a catalyst for success, both for herself and the new businesses she assists.
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Saturnie Antoine has been a part of NBIC since November 2021, serving as the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and has obtained a professional certification in coaching skills. With a diverse background in corporate work spanning over 15 years, Saturnie has worked in various sectors. As the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager, Saturnie oversees the entire program. Her responsibilities include structuring the curriculum, sourcing speakers, and organizing the launch campaign. Additionally, Saturnie provides personalized professional coaching to the program participants, offering guidance and support to help them scale their businesses to $1 million plus level. Since the commencement of the program in March 2023, under Saturnie’s leadership, R.I.S.E. UP has witnessed numerous accomplishments and successes. Additionally, the program’s focus on emotional intelligence has helped participants navigate internal challenges and overcome obstacles inhibiting their growth. Outside of work, Saturnie values personal time spent with her family and loved ones. Her true passion lies in her role as a professional coach, where she finds fulfillment in assisting women on their journey towards personal and professional growth. Saturnie’s commitment to her clients and her extensive experience, coupled with her excellent coaching skills, allows her to provide comprehensive support to program participants, enabling them to achieve their goals and reach new heights. Under Saturnie’s leadership, the R.I.S.E. UP Program continues to flourish and make a lasting impact on the lives of female entrepreneurs.
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Leroy Cunningham currently occupies the role of Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC. He holds a major degree in Business Administration from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, along with minor degrees in Accounting and Economics. Leroy’s prior engagement with business development consulting brings great strength to the NBIC team. He has worked at three of the largest market capitalization companies in the world – Emerson Electric, General Electric, and Berkshire Hathaway. In his current role as the Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC, Leroy wears many hats. One of his primary objectives at NBIC is to increase the number of small minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses qualified to undertake contracts from prime contractors and government entities. By fostering relationships with community partners and engaging with prime contractors and government entities, Leroy works tirelessly to bridge the gap and provide opportunities for these businesses to flourish. Additionally, Leroy dedicates his time to consulting with business owners, providing them with valuable insights and guidance. By helping businesses at their current stage and empowering them to reach their goals, Leroy greatly contributes to the growth and success of NBIC’s clients. Outside of work, Leroy indulges in his love for reading, sports, and travel. With his vast knowledge, dedication, and passion for community empowerment, Leroy is committed to making a meaningful impact at NBIC. His wealth of certifications and global business experience lends a unique perspective and expertise to NBIC’s initiatives, which will undoubtedly drive the organization forward.
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Octavia Wilson-Simmons is the Special Project Coordinator at NBIC. With a background as a tank storage broker, Octavia acted as a vital liaison between storage terminals and cargo owners, facilitating contracts for the transportation and storage of products. Prior to NBIC, she also worked as a chemical operator at a chemical company, further enhancing her expertise in the industry. Joining NBIC in early 2022, Octavia initially served as an assistant to Angela before transitioning to her current position as a Special Project Coordinator. In this role, Octavia plays a crucial part in various projects, including MNAA and Elevate 615. She also provides invaluable support to the team, assisting with grants and streamlining processes to ensure efficient collaboration and coordination. Outside of her professional endeavors, Octavia is extremely family-oriented and cherishes family outings and spending quality time with her loved ones. Octavia is also a dedicated DIY enthusiast and seeks to immerse herself in various projects. Octavia embraces the opportunity to collaborate with the NBIC team, support Angela, and contribute to the company’s mission. Having witnessed the growth of businesses firsthand gives Octavia special insight into the entrepreneurial world and the hard work that goes into operating and expanding your business. With her extensive background in the oil industry and her unwavering dedication to assisting others, Octavia continues to make a positive impact within NBIC, among her peers, and within the entrepreneurial community as a whole.