It hasn’t been a great start to the week. This morning I awoke to the news of multiple fatalities from a shooting in Las Vegas, and also the demise of Monarch Airlines stranding thousands of passengers overseas and potentially the loss of a significant numbers of jobs in the UK.
Crises? Absolutely. Both very different, but crises nevertheless. If these weren’t enough, add in the violence and turmoil in Spain and the questions around the leadership of the Conservative party, it is a depressing news day.
Planning for your crisis is essential. Every organisation has, or should have, established a list of threats which they feel might be their crises. It is the start point for the planning process of incident response and business continuity. Know what might hit you, and then put plans in place to deal with it. Whilst you can’t predict every incident you and your colleagues can think of the most obvious and damaging ones.
Linking the operational plan into communications is vital. Naturally most organisations and their plans tend to focus on operational response, literally, if not metaphorically, fighting the fire. They train people and they practice. But it is crucial that people recognise that communications is integral to that operational response. If you don’t tell someone what you are doing and why, they can only and will only assume you are still in crisis. If you don’t tell them you cannot assume they know.
Communication has a vital part to play in incident response by reaching out and engaging with audiences. No-one would claim that communication at the time of an incident is going to be easy. Communication is more complex than ever before. The proliferation of audiences, the complexity of organisations, the variety of channels and platforms and technology makes communication a daunting proposition, but in the same way as organisations train for and test operational response it is also possible, and important, that organisations train their people and practice their communications.
What is your crisis? Could it happen here?
A politician once said, “History is littered with wars everybody knew would never happen.” The organisational graveyard is full of headstones saying, “It can’t happen here.” It can and it will.
Jonathan has worked in the fields of Media, Presentation and Crisis Communication consultancy and training for over 15 years. He will be teaching our brand new course Crisis Communications course on 14 November in Newcastle. Find out more here.