By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC
This is a 5-day crisis communications challenge. With only four months left in 2019, you are being challenged to focus on your crisis communications plan with crisis preparation, crisis practice, and ultimately, a focus on how you can be the expert who achieves crisis perfection.
In January 2019, you were issued a dare to participate in the five steps to effective crisis communications video course. Some of you have taken the challenge and you’ve become expert communicators. Some of you kicked the can down the road. No worries can-kickers. You can become a crisis communications expert in the four remaining months of 2019.
The dare to complete the 5-step video course still stands. I challenge you to take 10 minutes a day for five days to watch, learn, then implement the five steps. Register with this link.
In 4 months you can complete the 5 steps:
- A crisis vulnerability assessment
- Writing or updating your crisis communications plan
- Writing your library of pre-written crisis news releases
- Media training your spokespeople for crisis communications news conferences
- Conducting a crisis communications drill to test your plan, your spokespeople, and your team
Here is today’s tip for you to complete step 1 – your Vulnerability Assessment:
Your mind has been pre-occupied in June & July with vacation. In August your distraction is getting the kids back in school. Use September to refocus and start with either conducting a baseline Vulnerability Assessment or updating your existing Vulnerability Assessment.
In order to write a crisis communications plan and a library of pre-written news releases for when “it” hits the fan, you have to know what your “it” is.
If you’ve never done this before, open an Excel spreadsheet and start writing down every sort of situation that could become a crisis that would cause you to generate a possible crisis response.
Keep in mind that this must go beyond a list of emergency situations. While emergencies are usually something that can trigger a crisis communications plan, non-emergencies are often more likely to trigger your crisis communication plan. This includes executive misbehavior, such as sexual harassment and embezzlement.
Once you’ve written down everything you can think of, separate them by classes, such as, natural disasters, crime, environmental, labor, activists, violence, workplace injury/fatality and so on.
Now start making visits to executives, middle managers, and members of your labor force. Simply ask them what situations they see daily that could arise to the level of a crisis. Define for them that a crisis is anything that can damage the reputation and revenue of the organization.
Add their observations to your list. Sort their observation by categories.
Next, attempt to identify what the economic impact would be to the organization if each one of these things happened. Use real dollars to calculate real impact for each one of the scenarios you identify.
By the way, once a quarter you should revisit this list and this process because new events will come up that did not exist three months before.
Once your list is completed, call a meeting with executives and let them know what you have learned and share the potential financial consequences of each item on the list.
Often, this list of vulnerabilities can be reduced because leaders will speak up and offer ideas that can eliminate a potential situation or crisis. Great. Hold them accountable to eliminate or mitigate the issue. For example, if malware and fake links in emails is one of your vulnerabilities, your IT team can likely put systems in place to prevent employees from clicking on bad email links. Hence, crisis eliminated or mitigated.
For all that remain, you now need to be prepared to communicate about them in the event any of these particular issues ignites into a crisis.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to begin managing your communications with a crisis communications plan.
Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”
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