Are you ready if the worst were to happen?

Your lawyer is on speed dial, you meet with your insurance agent on a regular basis, but when did you last sit down with a communication professional to assess your reputation risk?  Perhaps it’s time you did.

In my experience, this is an area that gets little attention, if any; unless of course something happens, then its chaos. However, it doesn’t need to be chaotic.

Emergency or crisis communication planning is a vital part of managing reputation risk, which can be very tricky – as things can get out of control quickly, and recovery can take a long time and monopolize lots of resources.  And, even if you have a plan, it doesn’t mean you’ll get out unscathed.

Just open the paper or go online; daily there is a litany of negative issues unfolding, from embezzlement, accidents, missteps, and media blunders, all with a potential to cause harm. Even good news can be twisted to suit detractors.

As part of the planning process, we help identify worst case scenarios, starting with what’s happened to the company in the past, to competitors, or to others in the industry. We also look at what’s trending in your industry and tie that back to what might be coming on the horizon.

To start, we organize internal and external risks or threats in terms of people, systems, legal and the environment, rating them as critical, medium and low.  This sets the stage for developing a plan, either at high level or particularly granular.

Key elements of the plan include response protocols based on actual internal processes, company spokespeople identified and trained, experts lined up and the tools mapped out — and then testing the plan.  It’s not a process to be taken lightly.

It doesn’t take a novel, just a couple of pages to get started. An emergency communication plan is always a work in process, as roles change, new information is available, and as a reputation is being built.

Do you have an emergency communication plan?  If yes, has it been updated in the past year or two?  If not, isn’t it time to get started?