Crisis Management – Yes, Stupid, You Need A Plan

Following on from news of Burson Marsteller’s research in to European companies’  level of crisis-preparedness – I wrote about it recently – which revealed (in addition to such gems as ‘crises may affect share price’) that while 60% of companies polled had encountered some sort of crisis, 53% didn’t have a plan – PRWeek sees fit to inform its readership that “Crisis Comms Is (a) Hot Topic”. (What is this? Some sort of uncontrolled outbreak of the Galloping Bleedin’ Obviousnesses?)

Now, in fairness (because, when all’s said and done, I’m a reasonably fair bloke) PRWeek is reporting that ‘more than 60 communicators from large international corporations across the EMEA region were set to meet in London to discuss the findings” (of the Burson-Marsteller report).  Which I find both terrifying and very difficult to believe in equal measure – what are 60 communicators going to do with the loosely-structured, scaremongering collection of motherhood statements that is the B-M report? Will they agree with the statistics – ie 36 of their number have experienced a crisis, while 32 of them don’t have a plan in place? And will the 28 who do then jeer and point at the others?

I suspect, given that the keynote speaker at this – judging by the breathless PRWeek copy (“Senior comms executives were set to convene this week to thrash out crisis comms strategies in the wake of new research” – oh, please) – hastily-arranged gathering, is the owner of a security and risk management advisory firm, that this is more of a paid-for training session cum conference. But, hey, call me an old cynic.

Two things then. All you 60 communicators set to gather in London – what are you doing? If you haven’t got a crisis plan – and you don’t know where to start –  don’t spend your money on coming to London to listen to a lecture. Get in touch with the CIPR or the PRCA and ask for their recommendations on a crisis management consultant, and then go and have a conversation. Quick-smart, choppy-chop.

Thing two. PRWeek. Instead of reporting this horseshit in a breathless fashion, could we please, please have a three page feature on creating a robust crisis management plan – some case histories maybe? You could even shadow one of the 32 of the 60 who don’t have a plan as he or she goes through the process of getting one together. Just a thought.

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