Jersey Road PR’s crisis communications course for church leaders.
This course is designed to equip you with the tools you need to respond calmly and confidently if a crisis hits.
There are five modules, each including a series of short videos outlining how to identify, prevent, prepare for and respond to a PR crisis. There’s a total of around 90 minutes of video content, along with a downloadable workbook with practical guidance and a series of exercises to help you apply your learning and produce a bespoke crisis plan.
To get the most out of this course, watch each module and complete the relevant section in the workbook. We also advise you to hold one or two meetings with your wider leadership team and/ or crisis team to discuss and develop your crisis plan.
Get started to discover how you can protect your church’s reputation, relationships and mission.
In this introductory video, Jersey Road PR’s Managing Director and former church leader Gareth Russell describes the impact a PR crisis can have on both a church’s reputation and the leader who has to respond.
Course Workbook & Crisis Plan Template
Here is your course workbook and a crisis plan template that you can edit to produce a plan for your church.
1. Stormy times
1.1 Why your church’s reputation matters
What’s so important about your church’s public reputation – and why should we care what the media think of us as Christians?
1.2 The impact of a PR crisis
This video looks at the unwritten social contract churches have with their congregations and their communities, and the sense of outrage and betrayal that can be triggered when they are seen to break that contract.
2. What could possibly go wrong?
2.1 What is a crisis?
We look at the definition of a crisis, what this could mean for your church, and why uncomfortable conversations and planning now can help you mitigate damage in the future.
2.2 The top PR crises facing churches
Some crises are more likely than others to hit the headlines, so it’s important to know what issues are most likely to attract media attention. This video unpacks some of the most common types of reputational crises churches face.
2.3 How does a crisis become a media story?
How does an internal issue become a media controversy? This video describes how crises become public, how defamation law may – or may not – protect you and when you are likely to be approached for a media comment.
2.4 Prepare, Manage, Review
This video introduces the three key elements of effective media crisis management that forms the basis of the rest of the course.
Web links from course workbook
Here is a handy list of the web links found on pages 13-14 of your course workbook.
3. Building your storm defences – crisis preparation
3.1 Introducing your crisis plan
Once a media storm hits, you will need to act quickly and decisively to stay afloat. A good crisis PR plan will give you the best possible chance of success.
3.2 Your crisis team
Your crisis team is the group of people responsible for responding if a crisis hits. Identifying and preparing this team in advance will enable you to respond quickly and well.
3.3 Your crisis audit
A crisis audit enables you to identify the main risks your church faces and how you will respond.
3.4 Your crisis audiences
This video looks at the most important audiences and gives guidance on what they will want to know and how you can communicate effectively with them.
3.5 Your crisis messages
What will you say if a crisis hits? It’s a good idea to think through some of the main messages you would like to get across in advance, without the pressure and emotion of a live crisis.
3.6 Crisis preparation – review and reminder
This video summarises the actions you need to take to prepare for a PR crisis, from checking with your denomination or network for any existing policies and PR support, to setting up your crisis team, carrying out your audit and drafting your messages.
Web links from course workbook
Outrage in the church and society over a US-based pastor smearing saliva into a parishioner’s face during the Covid pandemic to illustrate the story of Jesus healing the blind man.
4. When the storm hits
4.1 What to expect when a crisis starts to break
Your actions in the first 90 minutes to 24 hours after a crisis breaks are critical to an effective public response.
4.2 The STAND guide to crisis response
This video provides the STAND framework for responding during a crisis.
4.3 Top tips for statements and interviews
Statements and interviews are the two main ways you can communicate through the media in a public crisis.
4.4 How to respond on social media
Social media is often the first place a crisis breaks and can help news of a crisis to spread quickly and exponentially.
5. After the storm
5.1 Your post-crisis analysis
The aftermath of a media crisis is an important time to review, reflect and take steps to repair any damage to your reputation.
5.2 Conducting your debrief
During a post-crisis debrief, you and your team can take an honest look at your response to the crisis to help you recover and prevent a future crisis from happening.
5.3 Your recovery plan
Our final video outlines the importance of an ongoing recovery plan based on the learnings from your debrief.