Have you ever seen a video clip of a news report or scanned a story on a website and wondered why the company didn’t respond the way you expected, or why they didn’t respond at all? You may have thought they were hiding something or that they were clueless. Or maybe you just couldn’t understand it.
When we aren’t provided details or know the story, we start to speculate and we begin to make our own interpretation of the events. We might ask, “Why aren’t they commenting? Don’t they care how this looks”? In most cases, they do care but they aren’t prepared for the situation. They struggle to decide what the response should be. They aren’t sure how to move through the process. And they often don’t understand the mindset and approach of media representatives.
Companies both big and small don’t have the processes in place. They don’t practice and prepare for potential sudden or percolating crises. They don’t have a designated person or resource who lives and breathes crisis communications management.
In part it is because most companies narrowly define what a crisis is and rationalize by saying “We aren’t a big company like the NFL” or whatever company comes to mind when it comes to managing crisis communications. Or they say to themselves “We’re a small company, the media isn’t really going to care about what we do”. Even if the company has had an instance or two when they have might have needed Crisis Communication, they don’t realize they need to proactively have a plan in place and available.
This narrow view puts companies and their leaders in a precarious position in today’s communication environment. Messages spread in seconds across social media and other online platforms. Leaders and employees are more outspoken today than in the past and the opportunities for media exposure are greater than ever before.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur living your passion running a small business or the CEO of a $500 million a year company, you need to prepare for potential issues and crises. If you’re a high school principal or superintendent or a healthcare manager or director, you need to think of how you’d handle a challenging situation with potential media exposure.
Start planning now. Build the processes. Develop and test the plan. Talk about it openly among both your employees and your leadership team. Make Crisis Communications a priority regardless of your industry or company size and cut the BS.