When the Answer to “Who You Gonna Call?” Isn’t “Ghostbusters”

By Brandi Calhoun

Key to surviving any crisis is effective communication. How do you distribute up-to-date information clearly and quickly to a large group of people? One way is a Crisis Call Tree.

A call tree is essentially a group notification system in which a network of people is organized in such a way that information can be easily and quickly distributed. It is called a “tree” because the contacts are organized in branches, where each one contains a “head person” and a number of people who are to be called by the “head person.”

Your first step in communicating effectively will be to determine who needs to know what and when; determine who your key team members are for a crisis such as the CEO, legal counsel and a head of marketing to start. Depending on the type of crisis and size of your company, this list could include your entire Marketing Department and outside agencies like public relations and social media.

Once the crisis team has been identified, you will decide to whom each key team member needs to deliver information. Are there store managers who need to be kept in the loop? Are there lower-level employees on the marketing team helping out with the distribution of information that need to be updated? Does your social media team need to be in the loop to field questions online?

Once teams have been identified, you need to establish a method in which information can be distributed quickly and effectively. A communication protocol is established to keep everyone informed. Email chains coupled with a Google Doc can be ideal in keeping entire teams up-to-date, while phone calls are key for top people to ensure accurate information is relayed in a timely manner.  Timely communication is important. As a team, identify and stick to a plan in terms of when updates will be shared and how the information will flow.

The content of your crisis call tree should include all members of each team, divided into tiers, their title and all relevant contact information including desk phone, mobile phone and email.

Do you have other helpful or successful tips in creating a crisis call tree? Share them below!