Is that your company? Your management?
Despite 9/11 and repeated warnings of corporate
turbulence, many companies have yet to establish a
protocol for communicating in the event of a crisis.
Sure, many “say” that they have a crisis communications
plan in place. But what we’ve discovered over the past
couple of years is that many of those plans are lacking.
While some companies are buttoned up with strategies,
protocols, trained management, and more, others have a
single sheet of paper with an organization chart. It is
intended to show the individuals and job titles that
would be responsible for managing crisis
communications in the event of an incident.
There are many incidents in our memory banks that
should serve as constant reminders about how important
it is for every business to have a crisis communications
strategy in place.
- Enron, Exxon Valdez, Firestone.
- Perrier and Tylenol.
- And, the latest: Merck’s Vioxx, Pfizer’s Celebrex
The news is rife with corporate recalls, ethical violations
and operational snafus. You only have to visit Consumer
Reports to see which products are on the warning lists.
Do All Companies Need
a Crisis Communications Plan?
Ask yourself: Could an incident or accusation could
damage your revenue, customer relationships or
jeopardize your company’s existence. If the answer to
any of these questions is “yes”, then you need to prepare
a crisis communications strategy. And, it is your
fiduciary obligation to your shareholders.
All companies do not have to have staff-up in-house for
crisis communication implementation. What is essential,
is that the company has a plan, has identified the
personnel: internal and external to implement it, and that
the company is ready to enact the plan at any time
without any notice.
Communications Nerve Center
Do you have the “A” team lined up to mange
communications in a crisis? e.g. do you have an
experienced communications executive who has a strong
background in crisis prevention and preparedness? Have
you retained an effective public relations firm or
consultant with experience managing the media and
internal communications in corporate or political issues
or man-made and natural disasters?
If you don’t have this fundamental talent
lined up, then it is time to get moving.
- Identify who among your senior management team
will be the team leader for directing
implementation of your crisis communications plan
- Select the best senior executive(s) who will serve
as spokesperson to communicate with external and
internal audiences in the event of a crisis
- Retain outside counsel with expertise managing
media relations and other company
communications in crises. Have a relationship that
enables you to have the flexibility to staff-up and
access experienced resources upon need, but
doesn’t burden you with heavy expenses during
normal business periods.
- Select which other executives and experts are
important to have on the team, such as legal
counsel, insurance experts, operations, human
- Establish roles and guidelines for how these
professionals will take action in the event of an
- Create a flow chart to depict everyone in the
organization’s reporting lines during a crisis, if they
are different in any way from the daily organization
- Be sure that all of the key players know how to reach
each other both during and after business hours