Kim Lehman

Today’s blog post is from Kim Lehman, Varsity’s PR strategist. Kim has 25+ years of experience working collaboratively with businesses to build crisis communications plans and activate them.

Every senior living community should have a complete, updated plan in place to deal with a potential man-made or natural crisis that could attract public scrutiny. But many do not. Here are some of the myths and misconceptions that could be holding your community back from developing an effective crisis plan.

  1. Nothing’s ever going to happen at our community.

You may think, “In 50 years, we’ve never had a serious crisis at our community, so we never will.” The fact is that you never know when an emergency is going to strike, so being prepared is crucial!

  1. An emergency preparedness plan is enough.

In my experience, communities often have an emergency preparedness plan in place, and they believe that is enough. I agree that knowing how to evacuate all of your residents in a crisis situation is very important, but that is just one part of the crisis communications plan. You will want to be ready to respond to every possible scenario that could happen at your community and prepare statements for not only your internal audiences, but for when the media potentially shows up at your front door.

A crisis plan will help you determine in advance how to speak to your employees, your residents and the media. It’s important that everyone who interacts with your community receives communication from you during a crisis communication.

  1. The CEO or executive director is always the right person to communicate with the media.

People default to the CEO or executive director during a crisis, but this might not always be the most appropriate individual for every situation. If it’s a financial situation, the best spokesperson could be the CFO. If it’s a hacking incident, it could be the IT director. If it’s an employee issue, it could be the human resources director. For many situations, it could be the communications director. My recommendation is to always put the best spokesperson out in front for each specific situation — someone who can articulate the message efficiently and correctly.

  1. Creating a crisis communications plan is too time-consuming.

Yes, it takes time and effort to create a crisis plan, but the alternative is that, if a crisis happens in your community, you’re caught unprepared. That kind of unpreparedness for a significant event has the potential to damage your company’s reputation and financial stability. It is better to invest time and resources up front than to suffer the damage of an unforeseen crisis.

Want some great tips for creating an effective crisis plan? Read my  blog post: “How to Create a Chaos-proof Crisis Plan.”