Let’s face it, every organization is in a current state of pre-crisis. Unfortunately, fewer than half of U.S. companies, and likely even fewer nonprofits, have any idea that they are vulnerable. The corollary to this is that none of these organizations have any crisis communications plan to rely on when that crisis strikes.
What’s more, most crises are foreseeable and preventable! After all, a crisis is a lagging indicator, meaning many crises are a result of poor procedures, policies, or behaviors, many of which can be identified during periods of calm.
This is why pre-crisis planning and addressing its two elements is so important. The two elements of pre-crisis planning are crisis management and crisis communications.
Crisis management involves the mitigation of risk by evaluating an organization’s vulnerable operations and procedures that could lead to a crisis. Common areas of concern that should be evaluated are:
- Accounting and financial procedures
- Customer safety and security
- Cybersecurity capabilities
- Engineering safeguards
- Heavy machinery operations
- HIPAA compliance
- Regulatory compliance
- IT security
- Workplace safety protocols
The process of identifying an organization’s vulnerabilities before, during, or after a crisis is called crisis management. Conducting a pre-crisis management audit will expose the vulnerabilities that could cause a crisis if left unchecked. By correcting those vulnerabilities, a company will have significantly reduced its crisis exposures.
What’s more, by having gone through a crisis management audit, the organization will be in a much better position to communicate its policies and procedures when a crisis unfolds in the future.
Notice none of this involves the various crisis communication measures an organization will need to take while managing a crisis. Being able to effectively communicate about a crisis is the second element of effective pre-crisis planning.
When a crisis strikes an organization, especially one of the 51% of organizations that is completely unprepared to handle a crisis, there are few events that can create as much stress for the executive team.
Pre-crisis planning is valuable to every organization because it accomplishes the following:
1) Produces policies and procedures that enable the organization to move with velocity (speed & direction).
2) Identifies an effective and qualified decision-making team to be ready in a time of crisis.
3) Reduces the amount of potential chaos the crisis could create.
4) Provides ready-made responses that prevent the dreaded “no comment.”
5) Calls for the drafting of holding statements to be disseminated to key audiences.
6) Prepares key spokespeople for the difficult job of communicating about a crisis.
The point of preparing for a crisis, which includes identifying key vulnerabilities, establishing policies and procedures for the entire organization to follow, and practicing for the inevitable, is that it turns chaos into calm, powerlessness into empowerment, and uncertainty into control.
Orwell Grey Strategic Communications is well-equipped to help guide your organization through pre-crisis communications planning. If you would like to learn more about us and how we can help, please contact us.
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