Imagine a negative attack has been launched against your company by a well-organized and vocal collection of critics who are determined to inflict as much damage as possible on your company, your brand and CEO. The attack has gone viral and now the mainstream media is picking up the story – a firestorm has begun and your cellphone rings. It’s an investigative journalist with a history of going after companies like yours. Are you ready for that phone call?
For far too many companies, the answer to that question is no. They are not ready and the result will be corporate leadership resignations, a hit to your stock price, congressional investigations, prolonged litigation, and a barrage of bad media that will take years to repair. It’s often a situation that should have been handled better and, in retrospect, was entirely preventable. As Warren Buffet once famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” In today’s world of instant communications, dropping the ball on a high-profile event can undo decades of work. Fortunately, there is a way to be prepared in the event a crisis strikes.
There are a million excuses for not having a quality crisis communications plan in place. Some corporate executives view them as an unnecessary expense that will likely never be used. Others think they have one when in reality all they really have is an outdated plan and an internal communications team ill-equipped to modernize it and put it into action. Still others think they can just invent one on the fly should a crisis break out. These are examples of mindsets that lead to PR disasters and cost corporate executives their careers.
So what are the elements of a good crisis communications plan? For starters, have one. A good crisis plan should contain the following items:
- A good crisis consultant with experience developing and executing crisis plans
- An internal leadership team in place that makes crisis planning a priority
- Previous crisis communications practice/simulations
- Reliable and current spokespeople
- An internal company protocol for handling crisis media inquires
- Existing media relationships with priority press
- A draft holding statement
- Anticipated Qs & As
- A reputation rebuilding plan post-crisis
Every crisis is unique (that’s what often makes it a crisis), but by having a plan in place and anticipating and practicing problems and solutions, your leadership team can rest easier at night knowing they are prepared for whatever comes their way, whether it’s an attack on your company from determined activists, a data breach, an employee scandal, a product malfunction or a fatality (hopefully not).
R&R Partners offers a range of services for managing crisis and high-profile events. Our team has a proven track record of helping clients weather the storm of a bad situation while protecting their brand. We can help you develop a plan and prepare for that day when your cellphone rings.
Your cellphone is ringing – are you ready?