By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
The past few years have been challenging for businesses around the world. From the COVID-19 pandemic to natural disasters and cyber-attacks, companies have faced a range of crises that have threatened their operations and reputations. A recent report by Capterra suggests that more than half of US businesses should be worried about the next crisis. Here’s why.
The report notes that many companies do not have a crisis communication plan in place. This means that if a crisis were to occur, they would be ill-prepared to communicate with stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and the media. Without a plan, businesses are likely to respond to a crisis in a reactive and haphazard manner, which can result in confusion, misinformation, and even panic.
The importance of having a crisis communication plan cannot be overstated. A crisis communication plan is a set of protocols and procedures that are put in place to ensure that a company can effectively communicate with its stakeholders during a crisis. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of key personnel, the channels of communication that will be used, and the messaging that will be conveyed.
A crisis communication plan should be tailored to the specific needs of a company and its stakeholders. For example, a plan for a manufacturing company that deals with hazardous materials will differ from a plan for a retail business that sells consumer goods. Similarly, the plan should take into account the concerns and expectations of different stakeholders. For example, customers may want to know about product safety, while investors may be more concerned about the financial impact of a crisis.
The first step in developing a crisis communication plan is to identify potential crises that a company may face. This could include natural disasters, cyber-attacks, product recalls, accidents, or reputational crises. Once potential crises have been identified, a company can then develop a set of protocols and procedures to address each scenario.
One key aspect of a crisis communication plan is having designated spokespeople who are trained to communicate with stakeholders during a crisis. These spokespeople should be identified in advance and given media training to ensure that they are comfortable speaking with the press and other stakeholders. They should also be briefed on the messaging that will be conveyed during a crisis.
Another important aspect of a crisis communication plan is having a plan in place for monitoring and responding to social media. In today’s digital age, social media can be a powerful tool for spreading information, both accurate and inaccurate. Companies should have a plan in place to monitor social media during a crisis and respond to any misinformation or negative comments in a timely and effective manner.
The report by Capterra also notes that many companies do not conduct regular crisis simulations. Crisis simulations are mock exercises that simulate a crisis and test a company’s crisis communication plan. By conducting regular simulations, companies can identify gaps in their plan and make necessary revisions.
The next crisis is not a matter of if but when. Businesses that do not have a crisis communication plan in place are putting themselves at risk. By taking these steps, businesses can be better prepared to face the next crisis and protect their operations and reputations.