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A Well-Crafted Crisis Response Plan Could Save Your Business

By Bruce Hennes, CEO, Hennes Communications

Written, tested and ready-to-go business continuity plans should just be part of doing business in today’s world. Typically, those plans include the step-by-step operational response procedures to follow in the event of a disaster.

Here are some common mistakes we’ve seen in this effort:

1.  Not planning for enough scenarios. Conduct a risk assessment or vulnerability audit to make sure you’re capturing all the likely threats from a broad range of experts in your organization. Ask a simple question to your team: “What keeps you up at night?” Typically, we’ll discuss 40 to 50 scenarios, which then get ranked according to likelihood of happening and ranked again by the impact a particular scenario would have on operations and reputation.

2. Neglecting the communications piece of the business continuity plan. The vast majority of plans we review have little or nothing to say about what needs to be said in that first, second and third news cycle. A strong crisis communications plan that dovetails with the business continuity plan will include what gets said, who it gets said to, when it gets said and where it gets said.

In that manner, employees, customers, other stakeholders and the public get information they need from your organization first (or at least a quick second) — a crucial step to help you avoid being cast as the villain in what’s usually a storyline featuring the other two players: the victim and the vindicator. Having a communications plan in place before a crisis hits also allows your attorney to bless what’s said in advance, cutting down on response time.

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