by Jackie Shelton
I consider myself to be a pragmatic optimist. I expect everything to work out okay in the end, but I know there are innumerable things that can go wrong along the way. How do I reconcile these two things? By always having a plan.
As vice president of public relations for the Estipona Group, part of my job is working with our team to help our clients identify what could potentially go wrong with their businesses. By doing this, we not only help them anticipate and address issues ahead of time, but we help them plan for what to say if something does go awry.
And speaking of “things going awry,” I’m guessing 2020 gave you some reasons to consider doing the same thing.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected almost every business, but in different ways. And that’s just one example of one crisis – though “global shutdown,” I’ll admit, wasn’t even on our crisis planning Bingo cards before last year.
Below are some general categories to consider when creating your company’s crisis plan.
- Financial: This could include embezzlement, bankruptcy, shortfalls or simple accounting errors that affect your reputation with your suppliers.
- Personnel: What if your CEO suddenly quits or is asked to resign? Perhaps you’re planning layoffs or considering hiring a new manager who might bring their own reputational issues.
- Misconduct, which covers a few categories:
- Organizational – Even with the best of intentions, your company might make a mistake that requires formal or very public atonement.
- Employees – Someone on your staff might text the wrong thing or go rogue on your social media accounts, leaving you with some serious explaining to do. And they don’t have to make their mistakes on your time. An employee’s DUI could also become your problem.
- Social attack: A person or group might decide they don’t like the way you dealt with said misconduct (or anything else) and organize an attack on your social media and Yelp accounts.
- Workplace violence: We don’t want to think about it, but it happens way too often not to.
- Technological: What would you do if you lost your internet for several days? Or worse, what if you have a data breach exposing your customers’ personal information to people who do not have the best of intentions?
- Natural disasters: In Northern Nevada, we don’t have to deal with tornadoes or hurricanes, but we do have wildfires, earthquakes, excessive snow (which could lead to flooding) and even landslides, all of which could knock your business off course for several days.
The optimist in me struggles with this comprehensive list, because I hate to be a downer; but the pragmatist knows how important it is to remind you to consider anything that could affect your ability to do business, or your reputation with your employees, your customers or the community.
And once you’ve identified these crisis scenarios, the next step is to create a plan and figure out what you’re going to do and say (and who says it, and to whom) in each situation.
Need help doing this? Join me through Zoom on Wednesday, April 21 for the NCET Biz Café, when we’ll be talking all things Crisis Communications Planning. Networking starts at 2:30, and my presentation begins at 3. There’s no charge, and you’ll end the session with the tools you need to plan for the worst while hoping for the best. More info at https://ncet.org/ncet-biz-cafe-communicating-through-crisis/
Jackie Shelton is the Vice President of Public Relations for Estipona Group, a virtual (but real) marketing communications firm celebrating its 28th anniversary this year. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at www.BizBite.org.