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Crisis Communications & Recovery Toolkit

From floods to low snow years to wildfires to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado communities have experienced a share of crisis situations. In continued partnership with communities and organizations impacted by natural disasters and tourism crisis situations, the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) offers a variety of crisis communications preparedness and recovery assets.

2020 Wildfire Seasonal Outlook: According to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, wildfire potential in the lower elevated regions of southern Colorado is above average for May. The long-range forecasts show a wetter-than-average season across other regions of the state in May while above-average fire risk is expected to expand across southwest and south-central Colorado in June and into July. The southwest monsoon is not expected to be wetter than average. Click here to read the full report.  

Preparing for a Crisis

It’s highly recommended that all organizations prepare and regularly update a crisis communications plan.

Key components of a crisis communications plan include:

  • A crisis team with up-to-date contact information
  • Checklists
  • Communication resources
  • Notification procedures
  • News and social media response
  • Integration of emergency procedures
  • Coordination with partners and up-to-date partner list 

Industry partners should feel free to utilize the CTO’s media response assets including the CTO’s Six Key Tips and the Communicating to Media During a Crisis document. Each document includes best practices for communicating with the media.


  • Be honest: Your destination is viewed as a trusted source of information, now more than ever. 
  • Monitor the conversation: In order to jump into the travel conversation, you need to understand what is being said. Monitor the discussion with tools like Sprout Social
  • Watch your tone: Insensitive, out-of-touch or tone-deaf messaging is preventable. Remember that a lot of people are on edge and you need to be a comfort to them. Take this time to bring fact-based messaging to the table.
  • Respond in a timely manner: While you do not need to be on 24/7, do keep a close eye on your social media notifications to monitor issues that arise. Demonstrating a timely response reiterates your platform as a trusted source of information to your audience.
  • Plan ahead: It’s unsettling to think this could happen again. It’s best to have a plan in place for how you will respond when/if it does. Develop a plan to ensure your organization is ready for the next challenge.
  • To message or not to message: When evaluating a crisis situation, we look at three different phases — green, yellow, red. To determine the current level and when to change levels or take certain courses of action, it requires the intuition of the social media manager and brand team to decide the tipping point for changing levels/action.

Crisis Recovery    


The Colorado Tourism Office and other divisions under the Office of Economic Development and International Trade offer a variety of crisis recovery assistance opportunities. From funding and grant support to mentorship and marketing resources, this document details a wide-range of opportunities that will help aid in the recovery process.   

For additional details regarding how these assets can be utilized, please contact the CTO PR Contract Strategist, Carly Holbrook, at carly.holbrook@colorado.com.





Wildfire Video

2018 was an especially active year for wildfires. Learn how tourism industry partners managed the crisis by watching the video above or reading about it here.