Op-Ed: Is your business ready to face a crisis?
It’s a fact, your business will face a crisis that can put at risk its reputation and, most importantly, its profits or even the operation at large. It’s just a matter of time for vulnerabilities to be exposed.
Why wait until the crisis arises to react? Why expect positive outcomes, when the top management has failed to make a proper comprehensive business analysis?
To ensure business performance and continuity, it’s proven that top management should not wait to be faced with a crisis to “deal” with it. A proactive approach is recommended to build and protect the company’s credibility and reputation.
That’s why it is critical for the C-Suite to benefit from the assessment of an ethical licensed public relations practitioner to support day to day operations. I’m referring to a trusted counsel with business acumen, able to advise management concerning policies and strategic plans to nurture and maintain relations with key stakeholders, while being in charge of communications as well.
With that point clear, let’s start with the crisis prevention phase. The public relations practitioner serves as the company’s conscience. Part of his/her role is to alert and convince top management to always act responsibly, taking into consideration the company’s purpose in function of the greater good.
Doing so avoids self-inflicted crises and prevent issues to escalate to a crisis event. We also support the business goals developing corporate social responsibility programs, in order to gain the trust of priority publics, who in difficult times can become our greatest advocates.
Crisis preparation is of utmost importance. Companies should plan ahead to identify and address main vulnerabilities. The plan should define the assigned crisis team, as well as spokespersons to be trained, corrective actions to be considered for each anticipated instance, and messages should be drafted in advance.
Also, rehearsals or drills should be scheduled at least twice a year. According to a 2019 PR News/CS&A Survey, 62% of the 200 participants said they have a crisis management plan but, out of those, 37% have never conducted an exercise.
Survey results are concerning because without practice, uncertainty and potential disaster cannot be ruled out.
When the crisis emerges, the company should focus on a timely response and recovery. Spokespersons should be available to face the situation, demonstrate concern to those affected, assume responsibility, take corrective action, if necessary, and facilitate accurate information to stakeholders.
Management actions should be focused on mitigating or solving the crisis in the least time possible, while being sensible with key publics.
Once the crisis is over, an evaluation is in order to analyze best practices, learnings, and opportunities of improvement. This analysis serves as the basis for the revised crisis plan that will guide top management in the future.
My initial question still stands. Is your business ready to face a crisis? I hope so, because not investing proactively in crisis preparedness could disrupt your operations, destroy your reputation, or even take you out of business.