Nashville, TN, February 18, 2020 --(PR.com
)-- Many public relations professionals with some years of experience have had the challenging experience of having to manage a crisis. You have your plan in place and execute when needed. The primary issue with a crisis communications plan is that it is employed after all hell breaks loose. Why wait for the sirens to sound before you mobilize the troops, activate the plans and, hopefully, work to minimize damage to your organization?
Jonathan Bernstein, head of Bernstein Crisis Management and publisher of Crisis Manager newsletter, was identified in PR Week as “one of 22 people who should be on the speed dial in a crisis.” Bernstein articulated his highly successful approach to crisis prevention during an interview on the popular Public Relations Review podcast. At the top of the interview, Bernstein emphatically noted that of the crisis calls his firm has been called to resolve “that 95 percent were completely preventable.” Continuing, he noted that had crisis prevention activities been in place the crisis could have been avoided. To the extent that complete avoidance was not possible, prevention steps could have minimized a major portion of the damage.
To begin, Bernstein says the most important asset any organizations owns is its reputation. Yet, few organizations treat their reputation as such. Crisis prevention, he says, should be treated as a form of asset protection. Among the important policies needed to construct an effective internal crisis prevention program are:
Vulnerability Audit—Forward thinking leadership assembles a responsible group to examine the entirety of the organization to identify, “what can go wrong” in any and all departments, systems, programs, locations, etc. Next question, “what can we do now to prevent those problems.” Organizational “silos” can also be a major source potential internal problems.
Internal whistle blower system - Develop a system for any and all staff to report problems to senior officials without fear of retaliation. It appears that most problems in an organization are known about at some level in advance. Yet, there was no conduit in place to facilitate reporting to senior officials. Two methods can be used: For the Record and Anonymous.
Identify “Post Disaster” Location - Should your company suffer a major disruption of service in your current location is there a plan in place that identifies a site where staff should assemble the next day and who will be doing what tasks. Most organizations have no such plan.
Computer Disruption - With commercial and government computer systems across the nation being hijacked for a ransom by a foreign hackers what is the backup plan to move forward under those circumstances. That “deer in the headlights look” is a frequent response.
Further, Bernstein strongly urges that no organization develop a crisis prevention/communications plan without first conducting its internal vulnerability audit., noting that “no two crisis are the same.”
The Public Relations Review podcast is available on Soundcloud, Apple, Google, Spotify, iHeart and nine other podcast sites.