If Forrest Gump were a reputation management consultant he would say that crisis response is like a box of chocolates! You never know what you might get – when your crisis plans sit unused and untested. How do you know if your crisis response will be like a box of chocolates? According to PR studies, 62% of US companies do have crisis management plans. However, fewer actually keep their crisis plans updated and tested. All teams and department leads must know and test their crisis response protocols. Otherwise, they fall into the “Forrest Gump” dilemma of not knowing what they will get when a real crisis presents itself.
“In The Can” Crisis Plans
Having a crisis management plan “in the can” is great! But not testing it and not updating it is where most companies go wrong. It is like keeping a car in the garage and thinking it will be ready to drive when you need it. A car that sits for long months or years without being used will not necessarily start. I learned this the hard way from our motorcycle mechanic. We left fuel sitting in a gas tank for months and there was a price to pay. The same is true with crisis management plans.
Lurking Risks & Triggers
It would be great if a crisis called ahead of time to make an appointment. But, the vast majority of crises happen quickly and without warning. The goal of effective crisis planning is to provide predictable tools and strategies for unpredictable situations. Lurking risks and crisis escalation triggers can upset the best crisis response plans. This is why it is called a crisis!
“The goal of crisis planning is to provide predictable tools & strategies for unpredictable situations.” – Benchmark Communications
10 Signs: Troubled Crisis Response
In honor of Valentine’s Day and Forrest Gump’s chocolates, we composed this special list to show you how to guarantee the most unpredictable outcomes during a crisis. Here are ten signs that you may NOT know what you will get when your organization faces a crisis.
- Your crisis plans are like swiss cheese… full of holes.
- Spock the Vulcan conducted your media training. (No empathy skills)
- You conduct regular crisis drills on an irregular basis.
- Employee selfies are the extent of your crisis social media strategy.
- Dog the Bounty Hunter is on retainer to “deal” with reporters.
- Executives arrive in limos and just want their lives back.
- The timely media response goal is 48-hours after news breaks.
- Security & receptionists lock the doors as part of your media strategy.
- Your people are certified as crisis response experts after one training.
- All frontline people are trained to duck and hide from the media.
A Box of Crisis Chocolates
I wish I could tell you that this entire list (above) is fiction, but some are based on true crisis response case studies. In the world of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Live Streaming and 24/7 news coverage, it is imperative that your organization invest in more robust crisis planning and training to test your capabilities.
Your crisis management team must have good plans in place with the right structure – solid assessment tools, sound decision models and proven problem-solving strategies. Those who do invest in crisis preparedness have a chance of succeeding. Those who do not are buying a nice big box of chocolates.
Good Plans Bring Order
Effective crisis plans give you the fast start you need to respond. They allow you to think through major risks your organization could face. Crisis plans also provide contingency plans for how your crisis management team will react. They provide the structure your leaders and crisis teams need to bring order to chaos and confusion. Structured steps can give your team a head start in a world of viral social media posts by citizen journalists and 24/7 news cycles. During a crisis you need every advantage possible!
“Effective crisis plans provide the structure your leaders and teams need to bring order to chaos.”
Benchmark Communications provides crisis response and reputation management services, media training, storytelling, executive coaching, communication consulting and leadership coaching. Our experts help leaders and organizations be their best. If you would like to subscribe to our blog, contact us today or see the Subscribe Box on this page!
About Gail Borden
Gail lives on a Texas ranch with her family and wonderful animals! We support a horse therapy program for people with disabilities, as well as local animal shelters that rescue abandoned dogs and cats.
Benchmark has consulted with and coached leaders and organizations from all 50 USA states and more than 25 countries. The team provides award-winning leadership and communication strategies to Fortune 500 groups so they can achieve their business, leadership and reputation management goals.