Thursday 1 August 2013

Crises Communication; Managing the Risk

When Lightning Strikes
Written by Robyn T. Braley

No matter how much time you spend creating a Crises Communication plan, you are never fully prepared when the unthinkable happens. 

You will never know how deeply the devastation can cut into your soul until it happens to you.

As you try to assess the degree to which your business has been destroyed while standing waist-deep in liquid filth, a crises communications plan may not be the first thing that comes to your mind.

Future In Ruins
Your future livelihood is in ruins. The lives of employees and their families have just been changed forever. You don’t even think about how much the loss of your business will affect your customers and suppliers. Your mind is numb.

The recent floods in Calgary, High River, Canmore and Alberta First Nations reserves caused me to review the Crises Communication seminar I periodically present at business conferences. I say periodically because meeting planners always seem to choose the sexier titles like Communicating Through the Media or Online Marketing; Getting it On, Getting it Right or Branding 101.

Ready-to-Launch Crisis Response
A ready-to-launch crisis response plan can save thousands when natural or man-made disasters strike. Getting your message out sooner than later will play a key role in your recovery. Telling your story from your perspective will mitigate financial loses, help to protect your investment, and protect brand equity.

Maintain customer loyalty by communicating what is happening now and what will happen in the coming months. After the flood we saw a crude sign made with masking tape letting butcher shop customers know the business would be open as soon as possible. Simple but effective.

Organizing contact lists into groups is the first stage of creating a communications grid. Emphasize people; employees, their families, and customers. Show genuine compassion, concern, and leadership. Spread out to include suppliers and the media. All forms of traditional and new media (social media, website) should be used to tell your story.

Just Because You Can
However, just because you can post photos showing the depth of your destruction doesn't mean you should. Don’t arm competitors with ammunition that can be used against you when your business is at its most vulnerable. And, be careful what you tweet.

Crises messages state what is known, calm fears of the unknown, and demonstrates confidence in your ability to see things through. My step-by-step process provides businesses with a road-map to recovery. It offers hope.

Robyn T. Braley is a brand specialist, writer and speaker. He is the President of UniMark Creative which focuses on website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. Contact him at or

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