By Jonathan Bernstein, President, Bernstein Crisis Management Incorporated
Every organization is vulnerable to crises. The days of playing ostrich – burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away – are gone. You can try, but your stakeholders will not be understanding or forgiving because they’ve watched what happened with Volkswagen, Chipotle, FIFA, and Lance Armstrong.
If you don’t prepare, you will incur more damage. When I look at existing crisis management-related plans while conducting a vulnerability audit (the first step in crisis preparedness), what I often find is a failure to address the many communications issues related to crisis or disaster response. Experience demonstrates that organizational leadership often does not understand that in the absence of adequate internal and external communications:
- Operational response will break down.
- Stakeholders will not know what is happening and quickly become confused, angry, and negatively reactive.
- The organization will be perceived as inept, at best, and criminally negligent, at worst.
- The length of time required to bring full resolution to the issue will be extended, often dramatically.
- The impact to the financial and reputational bottom line will be more severe.
The basic steps of effective crisis communications are not difficult, but they require advance work in order to minimize damage. So if you’re serious about crisis preparedness and response, read and implement these 10 steps of crisis communications, the first seven of which can and should be undertaken before any crisis occurs.
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