Crisis: The odds are against you

Murphy’s Law says anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  I don’t like those odds.

Anyone with P&L responsibility lies awake at night thinking about what could possibly happen that will impact their company.  Scenarios may include acts of nature, criminal activity or accidents.

Regardless of the scenarios, how a company communicates during a crisis can affect how the company is perceived by customers, the media and Wall Street.  Just look at the difference between the Tylenol tampering crisis of 1982 and the BP oil spill of 2010.

It’s difficult to understand then why so many companies continue to be caught unawares when a crisis hits.  According to a new survey by the Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI) and Fleishman-Hillard, while many companies are mindful of the potential damage crises can cause to their sales, reputation and share value, few have an effective crisis management plan in place to deal with negative scenarios, and if they do it is likely out of date.

While it’s difficult to predict the future, there is something you can do to minimize the effect of a future crisis on your business: plan for it.

Crisis management planning is a strategic exercise that anticipates possible crises and results in an action plan for communicating with various publics during the crisis to minimize damage.

Planning includes:

  • Identifying potential crises
  • Pinpointing affected audiences
  • Creating positioning messages for these audiences
  • Developing policies and procedures for communicating with constituents
  • Assigning responsibilities to company personnel
  • Training company personnel who will respond to the crises
  • Creating materials for use specifically in a crises

In addition to better preparing your company to face a crisis, this planning can help you pinpoint and head off crises before they happen.

A public relations firm with experience in developing crisis communications plans can help.

What keeps you up at night?

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