NJM Blog

Why Your Small Business Needs a Crisis Communications Plan

Shot of a group of colleagues having a brainstorming session in a modern office.

Your public response to an emergency could have lasting impacts beyond physical damage to your business. Keeping your patrons, employees, suppliers, and investors in the “know” has many benefits, and an effective crisis communications plan can prepare you to say the right thing in a high–stress moment.

Benefits of Having a Crisis Communications Plan

  • Build Trust
    Having a consistent, disciplined response to a crisis helps people develop trust in your business. You will appear more credible and in control of the situation when everyone communicating is on the same page and you promptly articulate a plan for how the business will move forward.

  • Slow the Spread of Misinformation
    An absence of communication from a business encourages speculation and rumors. It’s important to get ahead and control the narrative — from the moment news of the incident breaks. A confident comment from a CEO, public relations professional, or risk manager can mean the difference between the business operating close to normal, or your customer base fleeing for the competition.

  • Have a Disciplined Response to Pressure
    During a crisis, your business will field questions from every audience, primarily around the theme of, “How will this affect ___?” Preparing scripted messages for each type of question will give you a calm, measured response that encourages confidence among your stakeholders.

  • Establish Who Communicates with Which Audience
    In first aid classes, it is a common adage that, “If you tell a crowded room to call 9–1–1, it’s not guaranteed that someone will call. If you tell a specific person to call 9–1–1, it will happen.” The crisis communications plan should identify the people in the organization who will have the details of the incident, know how to explain it, and have the decision–making authority to press “Send.” For example, an HR professional may oversee employee communications, a risk manager might handle regulatory notifications, and so on. Set an expectation for which employees should (and which should not) be communicating with news media.

  • Reach Every Person Who Needs to Hear from You
    The plan should include a list of all potential audiences who require information if the business shuts down: customers, employees, news media, community members, company management, government regulators, and suppliers. These lists may be prioritized based on regulations, emergency type, and importance, to keep communications manageable.

  • Follow Regulations for Government Notification
    Certain types of emergencies require government contact. For example, incidents that hospitalize three or more employees require prompt notification to OSHA. A crisis communications plan lays out when such notices are required, which agency to contact, and how quickly contact must occur.

  • Have a Ready–to–Go List of Audience Contact Information
    A crisis communications plan includes a regularly updated list of contact information, so that your business is not scrambling to gather phone numbers or email addresses in the heat of the moment.

In the quick–moving world of the social internet, news travels fast. A crisis communications plan helps you stay in control of how your business is perceived during and after an emergency. A natural disaster is never convenient, but having a communications plan (and some great business insurance) can keep your company running smoothly despite the circumstances.


Crisis communications plan (Feb. 17, 2021). Ready Business, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ready.gov

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only, should not be construed as professional advice and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy. Furthermore, this article is not an insurance policy, and does not, in any way, replace or modify the definitions and information contained in individual insurance policies. Terms and coverage availability may vary by state, and exclusions and deductibles may apply. Discounts also vary by state and may not be applied to all policy coverages. Coverage for an accident or loss is subject to the terms and conditions of the insurance policy applicable to a particular claim.