In the case of the first client, we were working to help them get their messages straight, get on the same page and roll out a strategy for communicating with their stakeholders.
In the case of the second client, we advised a wait and watch approach, because the client was just not ready to wade into a bubbling media pool with a response. The facts weren’t clear, they didn’t have a spokesperson prepped and ready to go, and they weren’t even sure on their immediate goal. Responding would have been a disaster, so we suggested they focus on their internal comms and start working on a crisis plan.
Why most of us suck at crisis planning
At the vast majority of companies, the crisis plan is either non-existent or so out of date it is useless.
Psychology tells us there are three main reasons:
- Subjective value. We see more value, in the moment, in doing other things. We’re busy. Crisis planning is not the priority.
- Delay discounting. The further away the deadline is, the less attractive it seems to work on the project. This is especially true in the case of crisis comms planning, because it doesn’t even have a deadline – we don’t really know when we’ll need it.
- Mental effort. Put simply, we’d prefer to do something easier.
What do we do about it?
It’s too late to start a plan after things go pear shape.
What to do if something happens and you have no plan:
- Get the key people in a room or on the phone as soon as possible
- Get the facts clear
- Know what your company position is
- GET ADVICE. Communications advice and legal advice. Don’t respond before you do this.