Most crises are not accidents, but rather foreseeable.
While good communications adds value to an organization by removing barriers, earning trust and creating an environment for sound growth, a crisis subtracts value, said Larry Kamer of Kamer Consulting, who spoke about crisis communications with the PRSA Richmond chapter last month.
To prevent that from happening good crisis communications management relies on strategists and critical thinkers, Kamer said. “Critical thinkers are willing to look at things differently,” he said.
Organizations that do well at crisis communications follow a prescribed but flexible plan of action and treat communications and operational responsiveness equally. In addition, companies use all their resources, including trained staff and outside experts.
When it comes to being prepared, Kamer cited statistics from the Institute for Crisis Management in Kentucky that prove many companies are “still snoozing” when it comes to preparedness. For example, 55 percent of companies do not have backup at remote sites and another 40 percent do not conduct tight background checks.
To prevent a crisis, Kamer said a company needs to have several things in place, including:
- Media policies and protocols.
- Media training.
- Social media policies. “People are still all over the place with this,” Kamer said. “And now the media is competing with Twitter.”
- Existing crisis documents.
- Tabletops and scenarios. These are important Kamer said, because simply looking at a crisis plan is not enough. Companies need to understand how it’s really going to go down, he said. “Tabletops and scenarios are the way to do this.”