Beware the Ides of March: Wisdom for Crisis Communications & Public Relations

The phrase, “Beware the Ides of March,” has always been a favorite chant of mine.

Beware the Ides of March

Billy or B-Shakes, to his friends, also known formally as William Shakespeare, penned the line for his play Julius Caesar. A soothsayer warns Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March,” forewarning that Julius would be killed on… you guessed it, March 15th, the Ides of March. Twenty-three stab wounds right there in the Roman Senate sent Caesar to his grave, as he looked at his lead assassin and one-time friend, Brutus, and said, “Et tu, Brute?” which translates into, “And You Too, Brutus?”

Why should you care? What should this inspire et tu to do?

Like the soothsayer, I’m soothing to you that today and every year, March 15 is a great day to evaluate what might go wrong – fatally or not – within your organization.

In the world of Crisis Communications, we call it a Vulnerability Assessment. Today is a great day to conduct a Vulnerability Assessment.

A Vulnerability Assessment is the first step you should take before sitting down to write your Crisis Communications Plan. Your plan needs to anticipate all that might go wrong, so that you can have a pre-written communications template in your Crisis Communications Plan that addresses each vulnerability.

Hence, if your vulnerability assessment identifies 95 likely vulnerabilities, you’ll want to write 95 templates, which will sit in the addendum of your plan. That way, if and when that event actually happens, you can communicate quickly to the media, employees and other key stakeholders, because you’ll be simply filling in the blanks on your template, rather than staring at a blank computer screen and writing from scratch while under pressure, with, of course, people looking over your shoulder while you write. Best of all, these templates can be pre-approved by your executives and Crisis Management Team. This will eliminate that exhausting exercise in which non-writers try to wordsmith and re-write your communiqué, when you are under pressure to beat the clock.

As you assess your vulnerabilities, remember that you must consider the smoldering issues as well as the sudden issue. The smoldering issues will include things like executive misbehavior, internal theft. Penn State’s scandal is a perfect example of a smoldering crisis, which eventually reached a flash point. The sudden crises are the ones most people can name quickly, such as a fire, explosion or shooting at your facility.

I’m here to tell you, as your official soothsayer, that something is going to go wrong where you work and if you’re in PR, you’ll need to communicate to the media, your employees and other stakeholders. Heck, the Mayan’s are even forecasting the end of the world. Shouldn’t that be reason enough to make this Ides of March your day to prepare?

For details on how to conduct a successful Vulnerability Assessment, give me a call at 985-624-9976.

If you’d like to write a complete Communications Plan in just 2 days, I hold the secret that will allow you to complete a year’s worth of work using your team and working their fingers to the bone for 2 days.

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