A very wise public relations professor of mine once said the best time, money and effort ever spent is to create a crisis plan that never sees the light of day. In other words, a crisis plan that is never used is the best one ever written. I remember that lesson learned in both college and in a crisis graduate program I took at NYU a couple years ago. That lesson is easily understood by any PR professional, but convincing a client of it can sometimes be a very difficult task.
Crisis PR experts agree in today’s society it is no long a matter of “if” a crisis strikes, but “when.” What constitutes a crisis? The current philosophy is a crisis is something that happens to affect the masses. Clearly 9/11 was a crisis. The recent shooting in Arizona is a crisis. The recall of consumer products or the arrest of a company official all could be a crisis. But, how do you deal with a crisis so your company, your brand and your name come out on the other side with everything intact and open for business?
The answer is simple in theory and extremely difficult in practice. A crisis communications plan is by far your best first step in preparing for when that day comes. Public relations professionals who are experienced in issues management and crisis communication planning know how to audit your company communications and prepare you for the worst. These PR professionals tend to think and understand worst case scenarios and “dark side” thinking so that you are prepared, protected and ready to face the adversity of a crisis. Of course, planning for a crisis is time consuming. Yes, it is always wiser to have outside consultation in preparing a crisis communications plan, and yes, there is a chance that you will never, ever need it. But what if you do?
Crisis communications planning is for all businesses. Whether it be a small tool and die shop, a multi-billion dollar corporation or a local retailer – being prepared is vital to what happens post-crisis. Traditionally, it is human nature to not like talking about bad things. But, when it comes to the image of your company, can you afford not to?