By Darby Dame, Public Relations Manager – Crisis & Reputation
Practice makes progress, and while no company can predict when a potential issue or crisis could emerge, proactively putting measures in place to mitigate reputational risk is a critical piece of perfecting your communication strategy.
After working with businesses who have been impacted by everything from product recalls and environmental hazards, to plant closures and national media investigations, many typically ask how they could have been better prepared for the worst to unfold. Here’s how we see it, and how we can help:
Why is it important to prepare for potential issues or crises?
Preparation has always been one of the best insurance policies for a potential issue or crisis. Trained teams put organizations in the best position to mitigate potential financial and reputational fallout. That’s especially critical in today’s age of instantaneous communication, where a Tweet can generate international news (see: Cinnamon Toast Crunch). There’s never been a more critical time for companies to have game-planned crisis scenarios, and to have pre-determined who should be at the table if and when a crisis hits.
Methods of preparation can include:
- Establishing a small, cross-functional core crisis team
- Developing of a crisis communication plan or roadmap
- Crafting messaging and responses to potential problems
- Media training
Within an organization, who should be involved when there’s a problem?
There are many factors that go into determining who should be a member of a company’s crisis response team, from company size and location, to organizational hierarchy, to the types of crises it may face. As a rule of thumb, core crisis teams should be small and agile – able to respond quickly if the need arises, and scale depending on the severity of the problem. They also need representation from – or at least communication with – key function areas, including operations, legal, HR and IT.
Most importantly, the crisis team needs to be empowered to act. Crisis team members should be able to make important decisions for the company, and be able to quickly and effectively communicate approvals on action items and communications.
How often should teams practice working together prior to a crisis?
Teams should dust off their crisis plans – and ideally, participate in a moderated tabletop crisis drill – at least annually. Any time the company has major changes – such as a rebrand or change in leadership – the group should reconvene to proactively determine whether the plan needs a refresh. If an issue or crisis does occur, it’s also important to take time once the dust has settled to conduct a review of how the scenario was handled. This will allow the crisis response team to work out any wrinkles or gaps in process.
Now, are you ready to plan for the worst so your company can react at its best if the time comes? Learn more about Lambert’s Crisis & Reputation practice and our capabilities, or connect with us here.