Planning For The Unspeakable

Situations happen every day. It’s only a crisis if it happens to you, right?

As business people, we spend an agonising amount of time ensuring our businesses are on track, picking up new business, adding value to current clients and outsmarting our competitors. But do we plan for the unspeakable? Invariably not enough.

In an instant, all we have worked so hard for can be taken away – and insurance won’t help you; an occupational health and safety plan won’t save you; lawyers certainly won’t avert a catastrophe.

Because what’s at stake is at the very core of your existence – your image and reputation.

Planning For The Unspeakable

And nothing can save THAT if you don’t have a crisis communication plan ready to swing in to action; and I mean FAST!

And it’s not just planning for media interest. You might think that when a crisis occurs – fire, computer glitch, loss of data, sexual harassment, accident, or even death – that it will only adversely affect your business if the information is released or investigated by the media. NO!

Everyone also has key audiences such as employees, sub-contractors, suppliers, regulatory authorities, special interest groups, unions, sponsors, etc with whom you will need to communicate if you have a ‘situation’ or crisis in your business.

So how can you ensure that you are prepared and that the image and reputation of your business will remain intact should a crisis occur?

 (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

First, what is a crisis? Well, it depends on the type of business you have and the opportunities for things to go wrong. View ‘Insurance Won’t Save Your Business Reputation’ for a lost of possible crises. You’ll be very surprised just how vulnerable you may be.

Whilst no company wants to face the possibility that they may be involved in a crisis, planning ahead will ensure that your PR reaction to the situation is in place. How you handle the crisis in the face of media interest will likely determine whether that crisis builds or damages your company.

Planning For The Unspeakable

In preparing a Crisis Communication Plan, keep in mind that you may be able to trade normally or you may have to close operations – whole or in part, depending on the crisis.

Your Crisis Communication Plan must provide for the appearance of normality in abnormal conditions. They key here is ‘communication’ – what, to whom, when and how.

Insanely Clever Marketing can provide valuable information on crisis communication and other public relations resources that will enhance the image, reputation and publicity of your business.

There are eight elements to be considered and include in your Crisis Management Plan/Kit.

  1. List all members of your crisis management team with name, title and contact details. Depending on the type of business you manage, your crisis team may need to include CEO, Chairman, departmental heads, public relations person (internal or contract), marketing personnel, and legal and security. Thus contact can be made directly with the appropriate person.
  1. Ensure that contact details for all your key personnel are included – company and personal phone, mobile, e-mail, pager, etc.
  1. Include company fact sheets detailing the company, each division, physical locations and products offered. Ensure images are high quality digital, available on disc and e-mailable. Having information on disc and included in your remote location crisis management kit will enable you to use information on a remote computer, if required.
  1. Obtain profiles and biographies for each key manager or person responsible for areas you may have identified as being subject to crisis management. Include a high quality digital photo and have information in hard copy and on disc.
  1. Make available copies of your corporate and product logos, a pre-prepared media release (up-dated regularly) and a scanned signature from the CEO or business owner.
  1. Pre-write ‘scripts’ answering key questions arising from your crisis scenario planning. Include in the script, answers such as “As soon as that information becomes available, we will let you know”. Practice saying this until it becomes ‘spontaneous’.
  1. Establish key media contact information for your industry and, if appropriate, key financial press and analysts. Depending on your industry and likely crisis management requirements, include appropriate political, regulatory, environmental, and union personnel.
  1. Ensure that duplicate copies of the plan are available at an offsite location and include all information, disks, graphics, photos, files than are normally available in your office.

It is recommended that you put a crisis management plan and kit together as soon as possible in the (hopefully) unlikely event you will need some PR ‘insurance’.

For more information please see ‘Insurance Won’t Save Your Business Reputation’ on this website.

One Response to “Planning For The Unspeakable”
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  1. […] core of your existence – your image and reputation. I discussed this in detail on my post ‘Planning for the Unspeakable‘ and here you’ll find additional information on what may constitute a crisis in your […]


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