Do you have a plan for when “it” hits the fan?

crisis ahead

When it goes really wrong, do you have a plan?

Anyone who has a business needs a crisis communications plan. That plan should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated with potential new threats.

Your plan should address at least the top five things you could see going wrong. You need to have an overall statement about how your company will address the situation or fix the problem.

The plan needs to include a duty list and who holds responsibility in each area. You need to identify who will be your spokesperson. That person does not need to change throughout the crisis. You need to control the flow of information outside the organization. You need to demonstrate a concern for the problem and show that you or the organization are competent to handle or correct the issue. You need to be timely with your responses. Set scheduled updates for the media and social sites.

Never speculate when you are providing information for publication. Never say “no comment.” Say you’ll find out and let them know. Make sure you don’t minimize the issue. Don’t play favorites with the media. Make sure all sources receive the same accurate information.

Don’t forget about your internal audiences. The employees are probably fielding more questions than you. They need answers they can share that don’t spread speculation.

You may also have a group of special publics you need to notify. This could be investors or local government officials. It could also be your suppliers. Make sure you identify your publics when you identify your potential crisis situations.

None of us ever want to deal with a crisis, but in the communications business, more than likely one will land in the middle of your desk when you have the least amount of time to deal with it. With some planning and practice, you’ll be ready to deal with anything that comes your way.


Don’t overlook text and type in your design


I’m not a designer, but I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. The first thing you need to understand is there is a relationship between the content and the design. You need to learn to see patterns and needs in the content. Your reader, or audience, will respond to the hierarchy, organization, contrast and white space you create.

Your design will create entry points and flow allowing readers to jump in and out of the content. You’ve got to create a balance. Simplicity is usually best. And if it’s something your reader will see again and again, you need to create consistency.

Start with your information and the basics of the pages you are working with. What size will the piece be? How much content will you fit? What graphics and photos are available? I suggest you do a few rough thumbnail sketches and start trying to organize the information in a way that makes sense.

Determine the most important information and give it prominence. How can you draw attention to the information? How can you create the response you are wanting?

Keep in mind that fonts are part of your design too. Use the same font family if possible. The different faces of the font can give your piece uniformity while allowing you freedom to add interest. Multiple fonts end up looking junky and out of place. Vary the size and boldness to add interest.

Typography is an interesting design element. There are several classes of type: old-style, modern, slab serif, san serif, script and decorative. Each has a use and place in today’s design.

Old-style: It’s familiar and safe. It will give your piece a professional look. It won’t draw attention. It’s good for all mediums. If you are writing for an elderly population, these fonts are easy on the eyes. It includes font families such as Goudy, Palatino and Times.

Modern: It’s striking and contemporary. It’s class. Some say it’s cold. It’s not good for body copy. It includes Times Bold, Fenice and Nofret. It has extreme thick and thin lines. images4GT0L9J1

Slab Serif: It’s readable and has graphic appeal. Used a lot in advertising. Great for headlines and small blocks of text. It includes New Century Schoolbook, Journal and Lucida.

Sans Serif: It’s legible and clean. Simple. Considered contemporary. It’s great for web design, especially body copy because it’s easier to read on a screen. It includes Arial, Helvetica and Syntax.

Script: It gives the appearance of hand lettering. Includes Brush Script and Calligraphy.

Decorative: Graphic and distinctive. Not for blocks of copy. It includes Alley Cat and Juniper.

Your text alignment is important too. Flush left justified is easier to read. Centered text is hard to read because it lacks a starting point. Alignment creates visual interest and organizes thoughts. Your text should be a unifying force in your design. Use flush right for numbers.

Repetition is a great element to incorporate as well. Repeating a visual element unifies and strengthens a design. It also adds visual interest.

You’ve got to create a focal point. This is simply something that attracts attention. You can achieve this through the placement of an element, increasing or decreasing the size, adding color, or isolating an item on the page. Each page needs one main focal point – not several. It’s there to intentionally grab a reader’s eye and it needs to be something worth looking at.

White space adds a rest spot to your design. It doesn’t need to be uniform. It’s a great organization tool in design and aids in the flow of the reader’s eye.


How to get their attention and keep it


Whether it’s your blog, direct mail, email or a brochure, you’ve got to make sure the benefits of your company or product are front and center. Don’t bury the information that customers need to make decisions.

Few people read every word. Make sure your headlines, sub heads, lists and captions carry the important information.

Does your piece have a clear call to action? Don’t waste your time being subtle. Make sure you are inviting them to place an order, attend an event, or sign up.

Don’t assume one marketing piece will seal the deal. Make sure all of your pieces are connected.

Use video and photographs that get noticed and tell a story. Video draws the most people and is becoming the most sharable content in the digital realm. Photos should add to your story. Show don’t tell when you can. Illustrations and infographics are also great ways to add visual interest while adding to your message.

Keep your layout simple. Don’t use to many fonts. Limit yourself to two typefaces.

Stick with it. Don’t change your style or material every other week. It takes time to build visual recognition. If you’ve got something that effectively tells your story, don’t change just for the sake of change. Remember, the same people aren’t looking at it every day. It’s fresh and new to that new customer or reader. If they are a follower or repeat customer, that visual identity becomes familiar and builds trust and security in their minds.

Don’t forget to follow-up. You’ve created the piece that got attention. You crafted that clear call to action that got results. Now make sure you don’t lose the sell. Follow-up with the customer. Establish yourself firmly in their mind. Get them the information they requested. Keep in contact with an e-newsletter. This will grow that relationship and further build on your success.

Include testimonials from satisfied clients. Offer repeat customer incentives. Give them previews of “member only” content. These follow-up pieces should involve your audience as well. Ask them for their ideas or wants. Use surveys or polls to make them interactive. This will also give you valuable information about your audience or customers.

You’ve worked hard to bring that audience to you, make sure you are doing everything possible to keep them.