If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Ready?

A lot can go wrong for a company in the blink of an eye. We’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. Brand reputations that took decades or centuries to build can come crashing down in minutes. Leaders are left stumbling over their words in front of journalists as goodwill evaporates before their eyes. A good situation becomes an absolute crisis.
It’s an unpleasant scenario, and most professionals understandably don’t enjoy picturing themselves in it. It’s also a real threat, however. A lot can (and does) go wrong for companies all over the world, and risk varies widely with operational parameters. A manufacturer or construction firm has different crisis-related concerns than a bank or retailer, for instance, and every company has unique factors to consider when preparing for tough situations.
When considering crises that could debilitate your business, think about:

The obvious: Accidents on the job, product failures, service disruptions and other everyday risks likely come to mind first.

The extreme: From plant-related disasters to active shooters to natural catastrophes, these are worst-case scenarios.

The overlooked: Simple factors like employee misuse of social media, executive misconduct and activist challenges can also hurt your business. 

It’s one thing to strategically respond to crises like these on an operational level. It’s another thing to communicate effectively when you’re under intense scrutiny. There are countless examples of those who thought they were ready for a crisis but found their reputation and bottom line suffering when they couldn’t convey their message effectively under pressure.
How Prepared Do You Feel?
If your organization is like most, chances are good that there’s work to be done to get you ready to weather any crisis that comes your way. From smart processes to carefully crafted, proactive messaging, here are some of the tools you’ll need:
1. Key messaging. Many think the less they say during a crisis, the better off they’ll be. They couldn’t be more wrong. Someone is going to tell your story one way or another. Make sure that’s you. Think through everything that could possibly go wrong, and prepare messaging that positions you as compassionate and confident in the moment.

2. Communication structures. Crises mean chaos, and if you’re going to act quickly, you need clear protocols for designated communicators and leaders to get in touch with one another. Be sure contact information and protocols are well defined in advance and updated as your organization shifts.

3. Media training. Your CEO may or may not be the right spokesperson for your organization. Decide who is, then be sure they’re properly trained to speak to the media and other influencers in a period of crisis. They may face intense questioning, and they need to be equipped to respond eloquently. For those who aren’t spokespeople, supply scripts and directions for routing inquiries.

4. Strong documentation. From setting expectations of employee behavior to defining operational processes to creating a crisis communications plan and keeping it up to date, you need documentation. It’s far easier to protect your organization when you have everything written down and easily accessible.
5. A positive brand image. Nothing combats negativity like positivity. While this sounds like something from a classroom wall, it’s a core tenet of reputation management. Build goodwill with customers, neighbors, partners and the media, and they may go easier on you if something goes wrong.
Protect Yourself Proactively.
If this all sounds like a lot to work through, that’s because it is. With the right seasoned communications partner by your side, however, it gets much easier. We’ve worked with organizations across a wide range of industries to enact reputation management plans, and we can help you too.
Reach out to discuss where you need to go from here, whether that means conducting a crisis readiness audit, training your executives to speak with the media or identifying key messages for your organization. Discover your vulnerabilities and be well prepared no matter what difficulty strikes. Contact me to get started.