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8 months ago

What is the Value in Being Prepared for a Crisis?

James Dann | Byfield Consultancy

According to the Economist, the eight biggest corporate crises since 2010 resulted in an average drop of 30% of company value. It’s very clear that not being prepared for a crisis can be incredibly damaging.

But while PR cannot make up for the underlying failures that result in the ignition of a crisis, being prepared for a crisis can help you better control the ensuing flames of media and social media.

The reality is that firms around the world are engulfed in crises every day. They are undoubtedly fast-moving and highly pressurised situations. But what, exactly, is the benefit to law firms and other organisations of being prepared for one?

By saving valuable time, you stand the best chance of preserving your reputation

PwC found that 41% of leaders are not able to gather appropriate information quickly. As a consequence, they are unable to make timely, deliberate decisions.

Sufficient crisis planning will save you and your team the learning curve so you can focus on how best to respond to the nature of the events. For example, know who your spokesperson(s) would be in advance and you don’t need to waste time deliberating over who it should be.

In addition, an awareness of key stakeholders for the firm will guide decision making during a crisis. As part of preparations for a crisis, team members should be made aware of crucial stakeholders, including internal stakeholders, who are likely to be affected.

Ensuring that staff right through the organisation are ready for a crisis will mean they are less likely to be intimidated by calls from a journalist or panic, enabling you to handle the crisis as calmly as possible.

Your staff will all be on the same page

Crises can be worsened by a lack of efficient internal communications. For this reason alone, it’s worth considering simulating a crisis.

Crisis simulations can take a number of forms. For instance, you could create a timed multiple-choice test for staff, with a test follow up that looks at the various consequences of the options they choose. Explaining the different considerations that each decision requires will ensure that all team members understand the crisis decision-making process and are able to share information and updates in the most effective manner.

The weight of the preparation will naturally be heavier for the communications team. But it should be considered across the entire business. For example, receptionists and security guards will often be the first port of call for journalists and camera crews and as such, should be aware of how to handle media enquiries in the event of a crisis.

You’ll be better able to tell stakeholders what they really need to know

Moreover, readiness for a crisis will reduce the likelihood of your spokesperson going ‘off-script’ or saying the wrong thing. Remember: time is tight. Being able to calmly and effectively manage the situation will prove vital. Having access to the most up to date and accurate information as possible is critical. Knowledge of your audience and their priorities in terms will be instrumental in crafting statements.

The entire team must be well briefed and prepared in order to provide quick, effective and accurate advice, with the most up to date information to hand.

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There’s real value in being prepared for a crisis. A lack of preparation for a crisis can have a crippling effect on organisations of all shapes and sizes.

In order to better manage crises, preparation is key. Prepare by holding simulations, crafting draft statements ahead of time, and ensuring that there is a clear reporting structure within the communications team. Include key decision-makers in the preparations, but also include relevant staff members who are likely to encounter stakeholders in event of a crisis.

To learn the steps you can take to fully prepare for a crisis, download the PRCA Legal PR Guide.

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