What’s your plan when a business problem pops up that is totally unforeseen? What’s your order of response to an event that is unanticipated, troublesome, and not even your fault?
Who steps up to represent your organization? Who determines how you are going to react? What are you going to tell your customers? What are they going to say when media comes knocking on your door?
Few, if any, really foresee a “black swan” event
Nobody really expects a “black swan” – an unpredictable event beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that has potentially severe consequences for one’s business.
What kind of “black swans” are we talking about?
Events like COVID-19, a workplace accident that results in injury or even death, the actions of a disgruntled employee who is identified with your organization, slowdowns in the supply chain that affect your operations, to name a few.
The event does not even necessarily have to be your fault. It can be something that affects your industry, like a slowdown in the supply chain, a weather event that disrupts flights and operations, or an economic event that has an influence in your business category.
Unanticipated events happen and you need to have a basic outline prepared to deal with them.
When was the last time you looked at your crisis plan?
Good news: most organizations already have crisis communications plans prepared.
According to a PR crisis survey that PRNEWS and CS&A International, a specialist risk, crisis, and business continuity management consultancy, conducted in late 2019, about 62 percent of companies have crisis plans.
The bad news is that once the crisis plan has been prepared, it is often jammed into someone’s file and gathering dust and forgotten. According to the same PRNEWS survey, “it’s uncertain how many regularly update them (crisis plans). In addition, few companies consistently practice crisis scenarios.”
Why are these plans forgotten? Primarily because no crisis has occurred and there has been no reason to look at the plan. Or because personnel change and no one can remember who wrote the plan or where they put it.
No matter what the reason the plans “disappear,” crisis plans can easily become outdated or misplaced. And that puts you and your business in peril.
Crisis plans need to be reviewed annually…even if it takes only 15 minutes
Overseeing a crisis plan doesn’t require an entire day of your organization’s time.
In fact, it can take about 15 minutes a year once it has been prepared.
Your review needs to address questions like:
- Is the general plan still current?
- Has the contact information in the plan changed?
- Who oversees the plan?
- Do we know how to find the plan when we need it?
- Has our industry or situation changed so that the changes require us to modify our plan?
Who’s in charge of your crisis plan? And who keeps it updated?
Theoretically, your CEO or COO is responsible for your crisis planning and response.
In reality, someone in the lower ranks, or an outside resource, is responsible for crafting the plan, testing it out, and keeping it updated.
It’s important to ensure that someone in, or connected to, your organization is clearly in charge of crisis communications planning and stays in touch with its basic response actions. This same person should be the one to review the plan and call management’s attention to any changes that require the buy-in of the entire organization.
So what does Wellons Communications have to do with crisis planning?
Wellons Communications serves to write crisis plans, test them out, freshen them up when required, and, in an actual crisis, act as either the spokesperson for your organization or prepare your designated spokesperson’s response.
In short, we stand at your side and help guide your response so you immediately can communicate your side of a story to four key audiences:
Your employees: let them know that your only point of communication is whomever is designated as your spokesperson.
Your customers: tell them what is going on and what you are doing to address it.
Media: Identify one person (by name, title, and contact information) who is your spokesperson and how to reach them. And keep in mind that media includes both consumer media and trade media.
Your industry: if your business category is caught up in the crisis moment, let your industry association know what you are doing and who is speaking on your behalf.
Pre-empt crisis response now…by reviewing your crisis plan
Chances are you already have a crisis plan in place…or have, at least, thought about it.
If you have a plan established, look at it and update it. If you don’t have a plan formalized, put one in place, even if it’s only one page.
If you anticipate that you need—or may need—crisis planning assistance and crisis response assistance, consider our Orlando PR firm and let us help you put a plan together, conduct a run-through to see how it works, and stand by your side in the event you need to respond to a crisis.
And remember, those “black swans” are only a moment way…and you need to be prepared to address them if they occur.