Don’t Wait for the Crisis to Assign Team Members Their Roles

Thom Weidlich 09.20.18


One of the main reasons to have a crisis communications plan is to decide ahead of time the roles of each team member. Typically, the members will have various duties at different stages of the crisis. It’s important to make clear what those are.

The team as a whole may decide on how the assignments are divvied up. Obviously, assignments should be allotted according to each team member’s expertise and temperament. The representative from the security team would typically be in charge of making sure the site is secure. The PR representative (or representatives) would oversee getting the initial statement out.

At the end of this post we include a list of possible duties. This is a rough guide to what each team member should be doing to confront the crisis. You will think of others for your own organization and crisis scenarios.

Your crisis communications plan should include such a list of duties and who will handle each one. It should also include a list of the team members with their duties. This gives each team member a quick way to see what his or her duties will be. The descriptions could be expanded to include further instructions that may be helpful to the team member.

One task not listed below — because it could really be its own list — is deciding the level of response needed for, and actually contacting, each constituency that would be concerned with the crisis. Those constituencies include the board of directors, customers/clients, employees, vendors, victims and their families, investors, donors, patients, neighbors, government officials, various types of media, etc.

Some roles will be more obvious than others. For example, in deciding who should contact which constituencies, it would make sense for the CEO to contact the board of directors, sales people to talk to customers or clients, human relations to be paired with employees and their families, purchasing staff to deal with vendors and suppliers, and the CFO or investor-relations professional to talk to investors.

Here is the list of possible duties:

Members’ Duties/Roles

Invite members to CrisisResponsePro.

Fill out incident report.

Download/maintain the proper checklist from CRP.

Contact emergency responders.

Decide the command-center location.

Call in stress and trauma counselors.

Decide the necessary safety precautions.

Decide whether/what facilities need to be secured (including from reporters) and pressroom setup.

Record ongoing notes of the crisis response.

Oversee fact-gathering.

Identify the appropriate on-site/product/etc. manager who will serve as liaison to the crisis team.

Monitor media awareness/coverage.

Coordinate with legal about crisis-scene preservation.

Coordinate with legal about legal/regulatory restrictions on communications.

Cancel ad and marketing messages if necessary.

Determine the crisis-team hours.

Oversee website.

Communicate with call-center vendor.

Write fact sheet for call-center use.

Retrieve initial-statement template and fills in blanks.

Obtain final approval of initial statement.

Release initial statement.

Shepherd second (and following) statement(s).

Conduct research in the CRP Public Statement database into other organizations’ comments in similar circumstances.

Be the media spokesperson.

Photo Credit: Zsolt Biczo/Shutterstock

This is an abridged version of an article that appeared today on the CrisisResponsePro paid subscription portal. (CrisisResponsePro subscribers can access the full version by clicking here. ID and password are required.) To take advantage of all of the content, data, and collaborative resources CrisisResponsePro has to offer, contact us at

Related:The Importance of Training the Team in the Crisis Plan